Financial services company PPS has released its Student Confidence Index Report for 2018.
The report is based on a survey of 4,160 respondents and focuses on how the South African students feel about the country and their job prospects.
The survey has a strong focus on professional degrees with 19% of respondents studying accounting, 14% engineering, 13% medicine and 10% law.
“We believe professionals are important for their critical role in the working environment and for shaping the country’s future,” said Motshabi Nomvethe, technical marketing specialist at PPS.
“As such, we have undertaken this survey – for the fourth consecutive year – to understand the important issues that our students are faced with.”
According to the survey’s findings, 61% of the 4,160 students are confident they will secure employment after completing their university degrees.
This positivity is backed by recent Stats SA data which showed that the number of unemployed graduates declined from 6.9% in Q2 to 6.4% in Q3 2018.
“While this is a significant finding in support of student confidence, we have also noted in this year’s survey that more students want to secure employment over continuing with their studies,” said Nomvethe.
When asked if they have plans to relocate abroad for employment opportunities, 51% of the students – compared to 49% in 2017 – indicated they prefer to stay in the country to support the local economy through acquired skills.
This is similar to the findings from the previous years.
Notably, the 2018 survey shows that securing a degree has dipped to under 30% for the first time in four years with 27% of students saying they would want to continue with their postgraduate studies while 40% indicated they prefer employment.
“This differs from previous years and could be the result of the tougher economy where the general sentiment amongst students is to enter the workforce sooner,” said Nomvethe.
This is as an overwhelming 85% of students are feeling the impact of prices soaring faster than the rate of inflation at 5.3% in the past 12 months. Compared to 2017, 77% of students expect prices in general to increase during the next year.
“Evidently, many are feeling the pinch on their already squeezed student budgets,” she said.
“From a PPS perspective, we value the insights the current sentiment from our students. While there are very real issues to still be dealt with, the optimism – from our country’s future professionals – gives reason to remain upbeat.”