Become a Participant in the Siyaphumelela Network 2020-2022

Alan Amory

Over the past five years Siyaphumelela has worked across five universities to improve student success. From 2020, Siyaphumelela will build on these experiences to expand across the higher education system in South Africa.

This call to become a Participant Institution in the future Siyaphumelela Network sets out to describe the goals of the Network, the role of the Participant Institutions, and subscription costs and services provided.

All South African higher education institutions are eligible to join the Siyaphumelela Network 2020-2023.

Goals of the Siyaphumelela Network

To catalyse student success across the South African higher education system, the key goals of the Siyaphumelela Network are to:

  1. Establish a more student-centred culture in South Africa’s higher education system to improve student completion rates and reduce race and gender equity differences
  2. Improve institutional capacity to collect and use student data to improve student success across the higher education system
  3. Expand evidence-based student success efforts on a national scale, using a networked approach that builds on existing strengths, shares capacity throughout the system, and serves institutions based on their current needs and abilities

Components of the Siyaphumelela Network

The network, to support student success, rests on two main components: the development and support of services (resources and tools) offered across the network, and regional sub-networks supported by a co-ordinating backbone organisation (Saide) in order to benefit all South African higher education institutions (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Components of the Siyaphumelela Network


The services will be provided by current and new partners, other higher education partners (including universities, SALDRU, SAAIR, USAf, DHET, CHE), international partners (ATD, UIA, Kresge Foundation) and Saide (as the backbone institution).

One of the key components of this model is developing a cadre of South African coaches for local needs with support from Achieving the Dream.

Siyaphumelela service providers will be supported administratively by Saide.


Developing networks[1] is important to share insights and learn how to support student success better regionally (by leveraging local leaders in student success) and nationally to help set a national agenda and co-ordinate and integrate the local networks. For the regional networks (Eastern Cape, Central, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern and Southern Gauteng and the proposed Western Cape regional network), six leader institutions will co-ordinate and provide support to local institutions to enhance student success.


Subscriptions fees for all participants will be R150 000 plus VAT p.a.. Siyaphumelela Participant institution benefits are:

  • Engagement with local coaches to support the institutions in their ability to manage and use data analytics for student success. During the first year, institutions will work with a Siyaphumelela coach and make use of a South African version of the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool to explore their strengths and weakness in order to prioritise student success initiatives. The designated coach will visit the institution twice annually.
  • Participation in an institutional service workshop related to the ethical use of data for student success (small group) plus in two national service workshops. Three members from each Participant Institution will be invited to participate in each of the national  service workshops. Registration costs for these three members is covered by the annual fee. However, transport and accommodation costs are not included. Participant Institutions, at their own cost, are welcome to participate in additional services workshops.
  • Opportunities to meet on a semester basis with representative of nearby universities to compare notes and experiences (regional sub-network engagement). Three members from each Participant Institution will be invited to participate as part of the annual fees. However, transport and accommodation costs are not included.
  • Free registration for three members to the annual Siyaphumelela conference on student success. The conference brings together institutional researchers, academic developers, student advisors and university leadership to discuss innovations and challenges in student success, both in South Africa and worldwide. Institutions to pay transport and accommodation costs.
  • In a three year cycle one staff member from each Participant Institution will be fully sponsored to participate in the Achieving the Dream annual international conference in the USA.

Request to be a Participant Institution

Any South African public university headquartered in South Africa is eligible to apply to be part of the Siyaphumelela Network. The annual fee is R150 000 (excluding VAT).

The Department of Higher Education and Training has agreed that institutions can draw on the interest received from University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG) funding for their University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP) Plans to join and participate in the Siyaphumelela Network in 2020. If there is a challenge regarding the availability of interest, the university is invited to discuss the issue with the Department. Furthermore, working with the institutional coach and accessing appropriate Siyaphumelela services, institutions will be able to develop a detailed plan for participation in the Network and Network activities from 2021 to 2023 and incorporate this plan into the institution’s new UCDP Plan for 2021 to 2023.

[1] Anderson, B. D., & Vongpanitlerd, S. (2013). Network analysis and synthesis: a modern systems theory approach. Courier Corporation.