Student Support Structures for Transitioning from Vocational to University Education: A South African Case Study

  • Seamus NeedhamEmail author
Reference work entry


The divide between vocational colleges and universities in South Africa, in spite of government attempts to institute articulation and progression policy, is still too great for many students to make the transition. A 5-year research and development project that brought colleges and a university together to collaborate around enabling TVET college students to progress from a professional financial planning program into a university qualification in finance revealed rather dismal outcomes if judged by throughput rates alone. Analysis of the reasons for the poor performance of these college students at university revealed significant disparities between the kinds of support offered at TVET colleges and that offered at university. Notwithstanding contextual differences, scholarship on student transitions to university and learner retention resonate with the findings of the qualitative research conducted into the project and its outcomes. This chapter focuses on students’ experiences of transitioning from a vocational college to a university and concludes that fundamental differences in approaches to student support in the two institutional types impacted negatively on student transitions and outcomes.


Student support Transitions Learner retention TVET colleges University 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Post-School StudiesUniversity of the Western CapeCape TownSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joy Papier
    • 1
  1. 1.University of the Western CapeCape TownSouth Africa

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