Corruption, unemployment, economic havoc caused by Covid-19 of concern to tertiary students – study

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  • Some university students have raised concerns about the future of the country post Covid-19.
  • A survey by Professional Provident Society revealed that students were also worried about soaring unemployment and rampant corruption.
  • Others intended to leave the country upon completing their studies.

The majority of tertiary students are concerned about South Africa’s future over the next five years.

According to the financial services company, Professional Provident Society (PPS), the concern was due to prevalent corruption, soaring unemployment and the economic devastation caused by Covid-19.

The company released its 2021 Student Confidence Index (SCI) survey.

The survey revealed that the majority of students contacted would want a hybrid learning approach, while others intended to head overseas after obtaining a degree.

One in three students had a side hustle, with 31% planning to grow their side hustles once employed.   

“However, many students choose to see the silver lining and are determined to grab the opportunities presented by these challenges,” said Motshabi Nomvethe PPS head of technical marketing.

READ | Covid-19: Increased Gauteng cases driven by cluster outbreak among students

The survey has been conducted annually since 2015, except in 2020 due to Covid-19. The 2021 survey involved 3 304 participants focused on providing intelligent financial solutions for graduate professionals. 

Students who participated were undergraduates and postgraduates studying at a public university or university of technology.

They are students studying towards a profession-specific degree such as engineering, medicine, law or accounting and responded to the survey through online questionnaires and virtual focus groups.

“Of the respondents, 51% are more anxious when compared to 2020 about the future impact of Covid-19,” Nomvethe said.

Regarding their feelings about the country’s future over the next five years, 39% are not positive, while 41% say they are uncertain. This is because of a confluence of problems such as comparatively low education standards, crime and a lack of political will to solve them. For 88% of the students, it’s the debilitating unemployment and for 77% the rampant corruption which sit atop their worry list.

About 55% of respondents were somewhat or entirely not confident that they would get a job after obtaining their qualification. 

“A growing number of students are therefore pursuing entrepreneurship. One in three students has a side hustle, with 31% intending to grow these once employed. More than a third (39%) of all respondents say they are planning to pursue greener pastures outside the country,” Nomvethe said. 

Nomvethe said those who indicated they wanted to stay, want to assist in growing the economy as they believed the country required critical skills. 

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“Covid-19 has changed learning. The impact was moderate, with 41% feeling that they battled with no contact during the hard lockdown, 30% felt more anxious, and 34% found the shift to e-learning challenging. 

“Generally, the transition to e-learning was a challenge for many students, especially those from historically challenged backgrounds. While 26% of the students said mobile data was expensive, things are improving, and 48% say they prefer a hybrid learning approach,” Nomvethe explains. 

“Cognisant of these challenges, the PPS Foundation provided several higher learning institutions with funds to buy digital devices and internet data for students during the crossover to e-learning,” Nomvethe said.

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