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New book recommends “rethinking of university readiness”
2015-06-01

A young man draws himself standing behind a brick wall in darkness, striving in vain to reach success and sunshine on the other side. This drawing aptly illustrates the focus of Dr Merridy Wilson-Strydom’s book University Access and Success: Capabilities, diversity and social justice.

Using the capabilities approach, Dr Wilson-Strydom considers the individual wellbeing and quality of life of students as central metrics for understanding access and success. Based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative research, including focus groups, written reflections and drawings, interviews, and participatory workshops, she identifies seven key capabilities needed for a student to successfully transition to university life, namely:

  1. Practical reason
  2. Knowledge and imagination
  3. Learning disposition
  4. Social relations and social networks
  5. Respect, dignity and recognition
  6. Emotional health
  7. Language competence and confidence

At the launch of the book at the UFS recently, Prof Sandra Boni, from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain, said: “From a methodological perspective, this book is an excellent contribution in the educational research domain ... It brings a richness of data that allows the author to explore in a deeper way the personal characteristics and the social factors that influence the capability [of students] to participate. ... This book offers interesting avenues for action in the university realm.”

Dr Lis Lange, Vice-Rector: Academic at the UFS, said at the same event: “We will have to rethink what we are doing and how we are doing it. I would like to make it prescribed reading for all deans and HODs.”

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