University of Pretoria included in the Kresge Foundation's Siyaphumelela initiative

Posted on December 09, 2014

The Kresge Foundation awarded $2,9 million to four South African universities and an education institute to improve student success through improved data analytics. The four-year grants of $400,000 in the Siyaphumelela (We Succeed) initiative were awarded to the University of Pretoria to improve student success through data analytics. The University was competitively selected from more than ten initial applications, and may also be eligible for bonus grants by securing goals within the initiative.

“Universities across South Africa are grappling with how to improve persistence and graduation rates for their black students in particular,” Mr Rip Rapson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation says. “These universities will work together with SAIDE to develop their data analytics capacity to find and share solutions and interventions based on solid information to improve student success.”

Recent research shows that only about half of South African students who enter universities graduate, and only about one-fourth do so in the minimum period of time. Moreover, only about 14% of black South Africans between the ages of 20 and 24 enter university at all. Kresge developed Siyaphumelela after research and engagement with South African higher education leaders, government agencies and experts in data and student success. Kresge also sought to build on existing trends in South Africa.

The grants will help universities build their capacities to use data to improve integrate institutional research, information communication technology, academic development, student services and academic departments. Beyond the improvements sought for participating universities, Kresge hopes to see new approaches to data become main stream for higher education in South Africa. Mr Bill Moses, Managing Director of Kresge’s Education Program, makes the point that, although little appreciated by the public, data analytics is playing a key role in improving education in the United States. Data is key to such US student success efforts as Achieving the Dream and the recently announced University Innovation Alliance, comprising 11 leading public universities. Both organisations have received Kresge support. Siyaphumelela has taken techniques and lessons learned from these efforts and examined how they might be used in South Africa.

Since 2005, Kresge has invested more than $26,7 million in South African higher education.

The University of Pretoria enjoys a long relationship with the Kresge Foundation having participated in the original $10,5 million Kresge Special Initiative in South Africa, which focused on building private advancement capacity at five large teaching institutions. UP is currently participating in the follow-up Kresge-Inyathelo Advancement Universities Initiative. This five-year $250,000 grant enables the University to continue strengthening its advancement initiatives and functions. On a recent site visit to the University Mr Moses commended the Advancement Division in the Department of University Relations on its progress towards the 2013 milestones and on achieving their second incentive grant in this project.

The Kresge Foundation also works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through making grants available and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development efforts in Detroit. Its Education Program seeks to promote post-secondary access and success for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students in the United States and South Africa. The Foundation’s grant programme  in South Africa is its sole international programme.

- Author DUR

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