18%; 50 to 60%; R300+ million — figures for SA universities




According to Council of Higher Education (CHE):

  • South African universities have space for only 18% of students who finish high school. I think it is a safe assumption to say these 18% are the best in SA as admission is largely based on performance. (What then happens to the remaining 82%? What percentage gets into other forms of tertiary ed?)
  • Of the students that get admitted into a university, 41% never graduate, that is they drop out because of one reason or another
  • Of these that dropout, 50 – 60% do so in their first year – more than half of the students that will drop out of higher education institutions countrywide will do so during their first year!

IF (big, bold “if” because this is some eye-popping stuff) my Math is right, about 20% of those that get into university drop out in their first year! Taking the example of the University of the Witwatersrand that admits 5 500 first year students, this means 1 100 students face some form of dropout or at least a repeat. With 1 100 students not making into their second year and an average school fees of R30 000 in first year, that’s a whooping R33 million swallowed by the system with no tangible returns. Whether this money is coming from government or corporates via bursaries or, worse still, from parents, this is a large sum. And that’s at Wits only.  The Head of School of Education at Wits said it’s fair to assume that if things are dire at Wits, they are roughly as bad or worse elsewhere. University of Johannesburg has about 10 800 first year places and this dropout rate translates to a crazy R64.8 million! I can’t imagine how much it all adds up to when you consider other universities.

These are scary figures. There are talks about increasing the capacity of universities from 18% to 25% of high school leavers. If whatever needs to be fixed is not fixed, this increase will also result in an increase in dropouts, in money absorbed with no tangible returns, ceteris paribus.

This is a really complicated issue with complex reasons at play but one of my friends asked me what I would suggest should be done. Admittedly I am still learning but my first solution is the wide adoption of a stronger curriculum like Cambridge at high school level. Of course it’s proposing a seemingly simple solution (though not) to a multifaceted problem and blaming everything on the curriculum but I’m convinced it’s a good start. I’ve been a private tutor and also through my startup IQmates, which is largely focused on that transition stage from Grade 12 to first year university level, I get to interact with many students from different universities and their first complaint is the same – “High school never prepared us for this.” It will obviously be tough and expensive in the beginning as teachers have to be found and properly trained, failure rates might increase etc but it will pay off later. As one thinker said “A leader plants a tree for a shade he will not sit under.” Maybe I’m too forward, there has been some progress and we need to see what the CAPS curriculum will achieve.

5 000 registered users!


Today IQmates reached another milestone: 5 000 registered users! It has been a great journey thus far, with a steep learning curve as we aim to create a useful online educational portal that meets its fundamental goal – allowing students to come together, share knowledge and learn.

What is exciting about this milestone is not the number attached to it. It is the realisation that there are students who need such an online community that is dedicated to helping them learn with their peers! It has given us renewed motivation especially now when we are starting to develop our own curricula-relevant content after our testing phase.

As we go on to the next five, six, ten thousand, remember to keep sharing your knowledge!

IQmates Team

— IQmates : Knowledge Shared —

Introducing Course Practice Questions on IQmates

calculus practice questions

calculus practice questions

example practice question on IQmates

example practice question on IQmates
















We all have had that moment when you have read your notes enough times and all you want is an opportunity to test your understanding. Well, now you do not have to wait for the lecturer to come with a test for you to know how well you have internalised the course content.

On IQmates, we are introducing practice questions you can attempt anytime, anywhere in any available course! As seen from the pictures above, you now have the option to watch revision tutorial videos or attempt questions (see image 1 above). These questions are sourced from carefully selected IQContributors who are mainly  university tutors and you can be attempt them in sections or topics. This feature is also available on IQmates’ mobisite! You don’t need to be on your computer to test your knowledge – now you easily attempt questions, learn and revise your course content on a taxi or bus home! This is in line with our Learn On The Go initiative (see images below).

calculus practice questions on mobisite

calculus mobi 2

calculus mobi 3







You can keep track of the number attempts you took to get a question correct. Every correctly answered question is marked green and every incorrect one is marked red. If you do not know how to answer a question or fully understand the answer, you are able to “buy” a tip or an explanation. The word buy is in quotes because you will use your IQPoints as currency. The points are gained by contributing in discussion groups, doing activities like sharing IQmates to your social media accounts, and attempting questions in our general knowledge IQ-Quiz game (this is explained in another Admin blog post).

The practice questions make use of our feature we call Randomised Options. What this simply means is, say for example option A is South Africa, B is Zimbabwe, C is Tanzania and D is Lesotho, when the question is viewed again, the options are  randomly rotated around so that, maybe, now A is Lesotho, B s Tanzania, C is South Africa and D is Zimbabwe. This is to help you engage with the question and not only cram the option. Tied in with tips and explanations, this feature makes learning much better and challenging. We are working on a variety of other question types that will test you even further and better prepare you for tests and exams.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, register into courses and start learning for FREE!


— IQmates : Knowledge Shared —