Best Practices to Address Inequities in Academic Support in the University Access Program

Lerato Sekonyela


Even though access to higher education (HE) has increased drastically among many institutions globally, some challenges persist, among which are impediments to student success. These challenges could potentially hinder students’ success and impede their smooth articulation to the preferred HE degree. Data were collected through focus group discussions that the Free-Attitude Interview technique facilitated. This study proposes potential strategies for implementing “best practices” to improve students' academic support in the University Access Program (UAP), particularly in the South African context. The proposed “best practices” are based on students who experienced challenges. Among these best practices are that students and tutors need to have regular meetings once or more per week, groups should not include more than fifteen first-year students, a student learning-centered approach should be employed, and students should be partners in the co-creation of the curricula and the co-evaluation of subject-related matters.


academic support, best practices, inequities, University Access Program, South Africa

Full Text:



Aguilar, S., Lonn, S., & Teasley, S. D. (2014, March). Perceptions and use of an early warning system during a higher education transition program. In Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 113-117). ACM.

Arendale, D. R. (2010). Access at the crossroads: Learning assistance in higher education. Jossey-Bass.

Ary, D., Jacobs, L. C., Sorensen, C., & Razavieh, A. (2010). Introduction to research in education (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Babbie, E., & Mouton, J. (2005). The practice of social research. Oxford University Press.

Benokraitis, N. V. (2016). SOC: Introduction to sociology (Student Edition, 4th ed). Cengage Learning.

Briggs, A. R. J., Clark, J., & Hall, I. (2012). Building bridges: Understanding student transition to university. Quality in Higher Education, 18(1), 3-21. 13538322.2011.614468

Chojnacki, W. (2015). Reproduction of educational inequities. Editorial Staff, 184.

Clarke, S. (2010). Building a knowledge society one individual at a time: A multi-level review [Working Paper]. MSMB.

Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Pearson.

Darling, R. (2015). The academic adviser. The Journal of General Education, 64(2), 90-98.

Diaz, M., Cheng, S., Goodlad, K., Sears, J., Kreniske, P., & Satyanarayana, A. (2021). Turning Collective Digital Stories of the First-year Transition to College into a Web of Belonging. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 5(1), 67-84.

Egan, K. (2015). Academic advising in individualized major programs promoting the Three I's of general education. The Journal of General Education, 64(2), 75-89.

Ferrante, J. (2013). Sociology: A global perspective. Cengage Learning.

Ferrante, J. (2016). Sociology: A global perspective. Cengage Learning.

Gale, T., & Parker, S. (2014). Navigating change: A typology of student transition in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 39(5), 734-753. 03075079.2012.721351

Hakizimana, S., & Jürgens, A. (2013). The peer teaching/learning experience program: An analysis of students' feedback. Alternation (Special Edition), 9, 99-127.

Hall, M., & Collins, S. (n.d.). Towards a widening participation perspective on peer assisted learning. University of Winchester.

Harwood, V., McMahon, S., O’Shea, S., Bodkin-Andrews, G., & Priestly, A. (2015). Recognising aspiration: The AIME program's effectiveness in inspiring indigenous young people's participation in schooling and opportunities for further education and employment. The Australian Association for Research in Education, 42(2), 217-236.

Hilsdon, J. (2014). Peer learning for change in higher education. Innovations in Higher Education & Teaching International, 51(3), 244-254.

Hlalele, D. L. (2010). Do learning skills acquired in the university access program enhance participation in academic practice? SAJHE, 24(1), 98-110.

Hubackova, S., & Semradova, I. (2016). Evaluation of blended learning. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 217, 551-557.

Im, J., & Kim, J. (2015). Use of blended learning for effective implementation of English-medium instruction in a non-English higher education. International Education Studies, 8(11), 1-15.

Jones, N., & Lau, A. M. S. (2008). Blending learning: Widening participation in higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 47(4), 405-416.

Kaldi, S., & Griffiths, V. (2013). Mature student experiences in teacher education: Widening participation in Greece and England. Journal of Further & Higher Education, 37(4), 552-573.

Karp, M. M., O'Gara, L., & Hughes, K. l. (2008). Do support services at community colleges encourage success or reproduce disadvantage? An exploratory study of students in two community colleges [Working Paper No. 10]. Community College Research Center, Columbia University.

Kirk-Kuwaye, M., & Sano-Franchini, D. (2015). "Why do I have to take this course?" How academic advisers can help students find personal meaning and purpose in general education. The Journal of General Education, 64(2), 99-105. stable/10.5325/jgeneeduc.64.2.0099

Lazar, M. M. (Ed.) (2005). Feminist critical discourse analysis: Gender, power and ideology in discourse (2nd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan.

Lowenstein, M. (2015). General education, advising, and integrative learning. The Journal of General Education, 64(2), 117-130.

Mahlomaholo, S. (2009). Critical emancipatory research and academic identity. Africa Education Review, 6(2), 224-237.

Marais, F. C., & Hanekom, G. (2014). Innovation in access: 25 years of experience in access programs. In Annual Teaching and Learning Report 2014: Moving the needle towards success (pp. 10-12). University of the Free State: Centre for Teaching and Learning.

Marincowitz, G. J. (2003). How to use participatory action research in primary care. Family Practice, 20(5), 595-600.

McFarlane, K. J. (2016). Tutoring the tutors: Supporting effective personal tutoring. Active Learning in Higher Education, 17(1), 77-88. 1469787415616720

Merton, R. K. (1937). The sociology of knowledge. Isis, 27(3), 493-503.

Mitchell, L. D., Parlamis, J. D., & Claiborne, S. A. (2015). Overcoming faculty avoidance of online education: From resistance to support to active participation. Journal of Management Education, 39(3), 350-371.

Morley, L. (2012). Widening participation in higher education in Ghana and Tanzania. International Higher Education, 67, 21-23.

Neuman, W. L. (2014). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Pearson.

Nkonyane, V. (2014). Power knowledge contestations at a transforming Free State higher education institution: Learning guide as a metaphor. Higher Education of Social Science, 7(1), 14-21.

O'Shea, S., Lysaght, P., Roberts, J., & Harwood, V. (2016). Shifting the blame in higher education - Social inclusion and deficit discourses. Higher Education Research & Development, 35(2), 322-336.

Pascoe, G. (2014). Research matters. In F. du Plooy-Calliers & C. Davis (Eds.), Research matters. Paarl Media. Juta.

Peck, J., Chilvers, L., & Lincoln, Y. (2010). Learning support: Student perceptions and preferences. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 9(2), 135-149.

Piper, H., & Piper, J. (2009). Educational research and transformation in South Africa. Science Africa.

Radulovic, L. M., & Krstic, S. M. (2017). Social inequality in education analyzed within various theoretical frameworks. Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology & History, 16(1), 25-36.

Rawlinson, C., & Willimott, M. (2016). Social justice, learning centredness and a first year experience peer mentoring program: How might they connect? Journal of Peer Learning, 9, 41-48.

Reed, R., King, A., & Whiteford, G. (2015). Re-conceptualising sustainable widening participation: Evaluation, collaboration and evolution. Higher Education Research & Development, 34(2), 383-396.

Rossouw, L. (2020). Skills and competencies for lifelong learning. Department of Psychology. University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.

Segabutla, M. H., & Evans, R. (2019). Lack of lecturer clarity during instruction: Possible reason for poor throughput? South African Journal of Higher Education, 33(3), 115‒131.

Sekonyela, L. (2021). Student challenges with the University Access Program in South Africa. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Studies, 8(1), 239-269.

Speirs, N. M., Riley, S. C., & Mccabe, G. (2017). Student-led, individually-created courses: Using structured reflection within experiential learning to enable widening participation students? Transition through and beyond higher education. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 5(2), 50-57.

Stewart, P., & Zaaiman, J. (2015). Sociology: A South African introduction. Juta.

Strydom, H., Fouche, C. B., & Delport, C. S. L. (2004). Research at grass roots: For the social sciences and human service professions.

Waller, R., Mathers, A., Savidge, P., Flook, G., & Hamm, D. (2017). Engaging sociologists: An A-Level tutoring and mentoring outreach project with 2nd year undergraduate students. The Sociology Teacher, 6(2), 4-11. 24364/spring_2017_tst_vol_6_2.pdf

Wanner, T., & Palmer, E. (2015). Personalising learning: Exploring student and teacher perceptions about flexible learning and assessment in a flipped university course. Computers & Education, 88, 354-369.

Weninger, C. (2012). Codes as process. In L. S. Given (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. SAGE Publications.

Wildemuth, B. M. (2009). Applications of social research methods to questions in information and library science. Libraries Unlimited.

Wilson-Strydom, M. (2015). University access and theories of social justice: Contributions of the capabilities approach. Higher Education, 69, 143-155. s10734-014-9766-5

Wodak, R., & Meyer, M. (2009). Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis (2nd ed). Sage Publication, London.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies E-ISSN: 2149-1291

Copyright © Center for Ethnic and Cultural Studies (CECS) Publishing Inc.

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.

SCImago Journal & Country Rank EBSCO HostCrossRef DOI – EScience Press ICI Journals Master Listerihplus hashtag on TwitterProQuest (@ProQuest) | Twitter