The effects of tertiary students' financial problems on academic performance: the case of Motheo Technical Vocational Education and Training in Bloemfontein.
Mofoka, Khabane Grace.
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Students from disadvantaged backgrounds experience difficulties when making a transition from their backgrounds into a challenging and diverse multi-cultural education institutions environment. Due to their disadvantaged backgrounds these students are faced with enormous financial challenges that have adverse impacts on their academic performance. They therefore need solid support structures to help them make adjustments to meet the demands of higher education. This study investigated financial problems faced by students at Motheo Technical Vocational Education and Training and aims to come up with support interventions to enhance academic performance in order to positively contribute to the overall student experience and throughput rates. Using a qualitative approach in collecting data, the study tried to find out the experiences of students and effects of financial problems on academic performance. Social capital theory and social justice framework provided the theoretical underpinning for the study. Social capital theory helped the researcher to find out students’ experiences and how they cope. Social justice focuses on policy, national and institutional efforts in eliminating the identified financial problems faced by disadvantaged students at tertiary institutions. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of 10 students and the head of the department of business studies. A further sample of 36 purposively selected students was drawn for a questionnaire survey to triangulate findings from the personal interviews. Results of the study show that due to financial problems, the students encounter problems such as inability to cope with the high standards of studying as well as difficulty in paying fees and accessing basic needs. Data gathered from the interviews and surveys insinuates that financial problems have adverse effects on students’ academic performance, but contrary to the study’s assumptions, and review of secondary data, no correlation could be found between financial need and poor academic performance or outright failure. In conclusion, it is recommended that, more policy research is needed to come-up with alternative policy solutions and to make adjustments to existing measures intended to cater for the needs of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.