Factors affecting graduation and student dropout rates at the University of KwaZulu-Natal
Keywords:competing risks, graduation rates, dropout rates, university, survival analysis
This paper aims to introduce into the literature a competing risks methodology that can be used to help identify some student-specific and/or institutional factors which may be influencing the type of outcome experienced by a student when they leave the university system. Focusing on the length of time that it takes students to graduate or drop out from their studies, this new methodology was applied to a database comprising all students enrolled for a degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal between the years 2004 and 2012. Financial aid and residence-based accommodation were found to help students who will eventually graduate to do so quicker in terms of the number of credit points that they have to repeat. These same factors, however, also cause someone who will eventually be excluded on academic grounds to linger longer in the system. By focusing on the number of extra credit points that it takes to reach a particular exit point, this paper introduces into the literature a new measure whose use will help to overcome some of the more obvious problems that can occur when one uses calendar time to measure the length of time that it takes to reach a particular exit point.
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