In this proposal, we propose using innovative and disruptive technologies and business models to create more accessible and affordable student services as a way of improving student throughput rates in South Africa. This is a brief summary of the approach:
Student throughput is a measure of how many students who start studying, finish studying successfully. South Africa has one of the worst dropout rates internationally. This not only represents an enormous waste of resources for students and universities, but also for the country, which cannot grow without well-educated citizens.
Reviews of reasons for dropping out of higher education indicate that while some relate to academic issues, many relate to poor access to services. Financial and other constraints make it difficult for students to access local accommodation, good nutrition, information and communications technology (ICT), learning resources and conducive places to study. This makes it difficult for students to focus on their studies and thus limits their ability to perform to their full potential.
This proposal investigates how services to students can be radically improved by combining innovative business models with new and disruptive technologies in the built environment and ICT domains.
Businesses are creating “digital ecosystems” that are reshaping entire markets by taking advantage of the connectedness, convenience, affordability and computing power available in the hands of ordinary people. Novel business models such as Uber and AirBnB, are transforming industries by providing better services at significantly lower costs than traditional approaches.
Evolving technologies, such as distributed ledger technologies (DLT), facilitate secure, peer-to-peer transactions in a fraction of the time and cost of conventional transactions. This has dropped barriers to entry and the cost of doing business, leading to an explosion of small-scale entrepreneurs that are able to create a wide range of affordable niche services and products.
This research aims to use these new and emerging paradigms, technologies and business models to create a practical and accessible student service ecosystem for South African universities and TVET colleges. The project will develop student service ecosystem models to provide practical alternatives to the current situation and to attract investment to take the concept to market.
Image: Block Chain for Change, 2017.