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400,000 USD for Wits Analytics Project

- By Wits University

Wits will receive a grant of 400,000 USD (about R4 million) to build the analytics capacity within the University, with the ultimate aim of supporting student success rates.

The grant, to be paid over four years, is part of the Siyaphumelela (We Succeed) initiative announced by the President and CEO of the Kresge Foundation, Mr Rip Rapson, at a symposium on philanthropy hosted by Inyathelo on Friday, 7 November 2014.

“The project aims to build a high-level system to profile potential students and the schools that they come from, to track their performance at Wits and to develop models that will enable the University to predict the performance of students,” elaborates Nhlanhla Cele, Director of Strategic Planning at Wits. “This will enable Wits to institutionalise appropriate systems to provide responsive support to students based on their respective profiles and specific needs.”

According to the Kresge Foundation, the grants will enable higher education institutions to build capacity “to use data to better integrate institutional research, information communication technology, academic development, student services and academic departments.” Kresge also hopes to see “new approaches to data becoming mainstream for higher education in South Africa.”

“We would also like to establish if there are particular ways for the University to support students coming from rural environments and schools that are not well resourced,” adds Cele. “To this end, we are hoping to work on some aspects of this project with the University of Limpopo and the University of Venda, as these universities may serve as some of the feeder institutions to our postgraduate programmes.”

The project will be housed in the Strategic Planning Division, but will be championed by the Analytic and Institutional Research Unit, which will work with faculties, schools and professional and support services units that have a stake in the University’s data systems.