Half of university students don't have resources such as laptops and data to study from home
A new study has revealed that the majority of university students lack “critical” resources such as data and laptops to study from home during the lockdown.
A total of 362 participants consisting of students across 26 universities, as well as graduates and parents were interviewed as part of the study by Feenix, a crowdfunding platform.
Qualitative and quantitative data from the report was extracted from a series of 54 online questions to help effectively measure the affect that funding has on students from an academic, emotional, and financial perspective.
“The research found that students are also severely affected by a lack of critical resources to thrive, such as food, accommodation, transport and data,” said Leana de Beer, Feenix CEO.
In relation to the need for tuition and registration fees, the report revealed that 41% of students experienced a delay in the registration and start of their studies, with 50% of these students citing that this was because of a lack of funding.
“The research showed that the challenges faced by students have become even more apparent during the lockdown, as students who were living on campus are unable to afford laptops and data to continue their studies.
“These students are also struggling to pay for necessities such as food and transport,” said Feenix.
“Another key takeout from the research, which runs parallel to the alarming issue of food security, is the poor access to resources. This rings true particularly for the financially disadvantaged ‘missing middle’ individuals, with 27% of the respondents experiencing difficulties accessing textbooks and 46% unequipped with the necessary tools such as data, laptops and computers, to complete their assignments or participate in online learning programmes,” De Beer said.
De Beer said the data collected would allow the organisation to adapt its business model to support students holistically.
Cara-Jean Petersen, student engagement manager at Feenix, said insights from the report would inform future product design in the organisation to ensure that it was meeting the needs as identified by students themselves rather than those based on assumptions.
“We can’t do this alone. Students need as much help as they can get. So, we call on businesses to play their part in bridging the gap — whether it’s through the distribution services, food vouchers, access to data and resources, or financial support,” Peterson said.
“There is a hunger for knowledge in SA. As a collective, we need to work together to help ensure that young people are equipped with the right resources and support to access higher education.”