Top 11 Challenges Faced by University Students in South Africa

Top 11 Challenges Faced by University Students in South Africa

Top 11 Challenges Faced by University Students in South Africa

University students in South Africa faced several challenges in their day-to-day lives.

These challenges can be political, can societal, and culturally inclined.

These challenges if no action is taken can results in the massive migration of students out of South Africa to other African countries in search of a better education.

Here are the top 11 challenges faced by university students in South Africa.

1). Lack of financial resources

The first main challenge faced by most university students in South Africa is the lack of financial resources needed to take care of their needs.

Lots of university students faced financial difficulties to be able to meet their basic and daily needs such as shelter, food, clothing, transportation, inability to get lecture notes, and internet subscriptions, just to name a few.

This challenge is even worse for students leaving rural areas to come to major cities such as Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, and Pretoria.

International students are even at greater risk of financial challenges while schooling in South Africa.

2). Hunger

The second major challenge faced by university students in South Africa is hunger. More than 15% of students in South Africa are food insecure.

The high cost of education, rent, and other expenses often at times leave many students with little or no income to support their nutritional needs.

The hunger challenge also stems from the fact that some of the students come from financially poor income families.

3). High Transportation Cost

High transportation cost is a top major challenge faced by university students in South Africa.

The transport system is often crowded, unreliable, and often very unsafe for students.

This often results in students getting late to school or sometimes even missing classes at all.

Due to the crowded nature of the transportation system in major cities in South Africa, some students would end up prefer walking on foot home and to school.

The high transportation cost and the unreliable nature of the transport system often result in to increase in stress among university students in South Africa.

4). Difficulties getting a job

Another major challenge faced by university students in South Africa is the difficulties they face in getting a job.

South Africa is one of the African countries with a high rate of unemployment, this poses a major challenge for students who are still in school to have a job.

Since a vast majority of the students lack work experience, they find it hard to get employment.

Also, the lack of information flow among students on various formal and informal employment available in the country makes it difficult for most students to have a job in South Africa.

Lastly, discrimination and race are still plaguing many people in South Africa, thus, it become difficult for some students to have a job.  

5). Language barrier

The next major faced by several university students in South Africa is the issue of the language barrier. There are 11 official languages used in the South Africa, however, English is the language of instruction in schools.

This makes it difficult for most students to understand lectures in school.

These language difficulties often result in low participation of students in classroom activities. It also brings about isolation and stress.

At the level of household and society, international students often faced language difficulties as most South Africans often like communicating with one another in their local language.

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6). Violence and crime

University students from South Africa are also faced with the challenge of extreme violence and crime in their surroundings.

Studies have shown that about 15% of university students have experienced violence and crimes such as sexual assaults, theft, and physical assaults.

The high crime rate is a result of poverty, unequal distribution of wealth, high levels of alcohol and drug abuse, cultural silence, and poor security measures put in place.

This violence and crime affect students and can result in several consequences such as physical injury, trauma, and isolation all of which can affect their academic performance.

7). Poor infrastructure

The next major challenge faced by university students in South Africa is the presence of poor infrastructure.

Most classrooms have broken windows, leakage on rooftops, and poor lighting systems, just to name a few. This makes learning very difficult for students.

Some universities may lack the basic necessity of a university such as a good automated library, ICT centers, and tools that can facilitate learning among students.

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8). Inequality or unequal access to education

Inequality or unequal access to education is a major challenge to students in South Africa.

South Africa’s apartheid era developed a system of educational inequity that still exists today. This means that pupils from various racial groups have varying degrees of access to high-quality education.

Poverty is also another major factor in inequality and unequal access to education. Students from less privileged homes cannot attend schools like those from high-income families.

Also, students with disabilities faced a major challenge as they may not be admitted to general education as the rest of the public.

Girls are unlikely to drop out of school as they are constantly at higher risk of sexual assault.

9). Housing challenges

Housing is a big issue for many South African university students. Due to a lack of cheap student housing in the nation, many students are compelled to live in overcrowded or inadequate conditions.

The negative consequence of housing challenges to students is that it results in poor health challenges as many students are forced to seek shelter in overcrowded areas with poor health facilities.

The housing challenges can also result in isolation as students who are unable to afford good houses near campuses are forced to get a house in distant areas. These long distances can often result in students being unable to attend extracurricular activities in school which can affect their academic performance.  

10). Social and Cultural challenge

The social and cultural challenge is one of the major difficulties faced by university students in South Africa.

Socially, all university students in South Africa comes from different social background, with a higher number being those at a disadvantage point coming from rural areas where poverty is a norm in their social life. While schooling at university, they often feel isolated from those from higher income status.

Cultural challenges also result as all students come from different cultural and ethnic origins. This often results in hatred, discrimination by skin colour, harassment, and conflict among students.

11) Political unrest

 The last challenge often encountered by university students in South Africa is political unrest.

South Africa has a long history of many demonstrations, and civil unrest all of which affect the academic calendar of schools which also affect the performance of students.

The multiple civil unrest often results in delays in the academic years of studies of students. Sometimes, students may face physical injury and xenophobic attacks.

Final Conclusion

There are many more challenges that are encountered by students that might not have been covered in this article. However, it should be noted that the South African government is putting much effort and resources to alleviate these issues.

Which other major challenges have you ever experienced while studying in South Africa, please share your experiences in the comment section below.

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