The high university drop-out rate needed to be tackled in light of the growing calls for free higher education, an umbrella grouping of South African universities, Universities SA (Usaf), said on Monday. When a student did not graduate, the expenditure over the time that the student spent studying was lost to the system, Usaf CEO Prof Ahmed Bawa told the fees commission in a supplementary presentation. The Department of Higher Education released a report in 2015 highlighting that 47.9% of university students did not complete their degrees. Black students had the highest drop-out rate, with 32.1% leaving in their first year. A report by Statistics SA in 2016 showed that for black African and coloured students, there was an increase in throughput or attainment ratios for certificate and bachelor qualifications between 1950 and the mid-1980s. This increase started to reverse in the mid-1980s and now it is lower than what was achieved in the 1950s.

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