Abbey Mathekga 'Towards widening access to underrepresented groups in the Biological Sciences: A case study of a South African University'
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9 January 2012
To be presented at the Widening Participation Conference 2012 'Discourses of Inclusion in Higher Education', 24-25 April 2012
Towards widening access to underrepresented groups in the Biological Sciences: A case study of a South African University
This paper explores the possibilities and limitations of widening access to underrepresented groups in the Biological Sciences at the University of Pretoria, which is a historically white institution with strong Afrikaans culture in South Africa.
This qualitative case study uses Osborne and Gallacher (2004) framework of getting in, getting through and getting on to explore and develop deeper understanding of widening participation.
The initial findings indicate a number of factors that limit access with success. The first factor is the academic challenge and the volume of the work that is required to be covered. A second major factor is students’ under preparedness to deal with the university culture. The data reveal that while dropout is still high, especially among black students, the students are receiving support from the university which encapsulates financial assistance, academic and psychosocial support.
The study revealed the need for schooling system in South Africa to strengthen career guidance and counselling as well as early exposure of learners to university environment.