As in many countries around the globe, South Africa has experienced extreme challenges providing inclusive education for all, as well as the need to improve skills shortages currently lacking within the South African economy.
South Africa’s higher education has increased admission of marginalised, black, often first-generation students rapidly, but sadly the throughput rate is alarmingly disparate and racially divided. This bodes the question about what it means to accept students with varying and disparate schooling and life experiences to higher education and sincerely know they will have a reasonable chance of success.
The South African Institute of Chartered Accounting (SAICA) has had a long history of addressing the glaring disparities in access and success along racial and class divides in Higher Education in South Africa. In 2005, the Thuthuka programme started with a specific focus on equity students with the potential to succeed in the Chartered Accounting profession. Developing a broad holistic supportive model for students throughout their degree, the number of equity Chartered Accountants in South Africa has increased at a rapid rate in the past fifteen years. Since 2005 there has been more than 1000 African and Coloured Thuthuka students who are now qualified as Chartered Accountants, and 2370 perspective CA students at various stages of the pipeline, bearing in mind that it takes 7 years to qualify as a chartered accountant. The programme has been run from 12 Thuthuka accredited universities who have worked in partnership with the respective Accounting Departments to provide a holistic and supporting learning environment. This holistic supporting environment has contributed to a throughput pass percentage of 60% at the post graduate level compared to a national average of 50%.
The Thuthuka model, experience and success has provided an important template in moving the notion of student support and development from one that is focused on foundational skills, student financial, housing and material needs to a holistic vision throughout the degree, including broad psychosocial, graduate attributes and academic issues. It is from this model that the focus of the new national Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) in South Africa has been developed. ISFAP started in 2017, is based at 12 South African universities with a specific focus on equity students and the development of scarce skills.
The South African Institute of Chartered Accounting would strongly advocate for equity of both access and success in higher education.
A big thank you Emeritus Associate Professor June Pym for submitting this statement of support on behalf of SAICA.