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(“We Succeed”)

ATD staff and coaches provide strategic support to an initiative that seeks to broaden evidence-based university student success strategies across South Africa.

An International Partnership

The Siyaphumelela (“We Succeed”) Network is an initiative that aims to enhance South African universities’ data capacity to improve student success, and especially eliminate achievement gaps among race, gender, and socioeconomic groups. Led by Saide, a well-established nonprofit, and funded by The Kresge Foundation, Siyaphumelela is developing equity-centered transformations across the country.

At the Siyaphumelela conference in June 2023, Kresge pledged further grant funding for Saide, as well as direct funding to up to 20 partner universities in South Africa from 2024. As this collaborative work expands, the ATD Network will continue to benefit from this international perspective on equity and student success.

Areas of Collaboration

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With ATD support, Saide coaches developed a version of the Institutional Capacity and Assessment Tool (ICAT) tailored to the South African higher education context.

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Holistic Student Supports

Collective learning from both networks enhances efforts to support student wellness and redesign advising practices.

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Leaders from the U.S. and South Africa share valuable insights and adapt lessons learned to apply to their own institutions and communities.

Initiative Goals

To catalyze student success across the South African higher education system, the Siyaphumelela Network is working collaboratively toward achieving equity by:

  • Establishing a more student-centered culture in South Africa’s higher education system
  • Achieving institutional targets to improve retention and success rates and to eliminate differences based on race, gender, and socioeconomic status
  • Improving institutional capacity to collect and use student data for evidence-based decision-making
  • Consolidating and sharing student success efforts on a national scale
  • Embedding the student voice

The initiative is organized into five main workstreams focusing on different elements of student success: the first year experience, mental health, open educational resources, a national student data warehouse, and student tracking systems.

Visit the Siyaphumelela website to learn more.

Fast Facts

As the Siyaphumelela Network has grown over the last decade, so has its capacity to advance equity and catalyze student-centered transformation. Dr. John Butler-Adam, the evaluator of the Siyaphumelela Initiative, wrote in May 2023:

“The Siyaphumelela Initiative plays a unique and essential role in South African higher education. In the process, it has also generated a considerable set of invaluable techniques, information, and skills and has created communities of universities which respect and enjoy working together … [its] contributions have been invaluable in addressing essential national needs, and have mobilized key stakeholders in higher education to embrace and prioritize student success.”


Pilot institutions in 2014


Participating universities in 2023


Undergraduates enrolled at Siyaphumelela universities (in 2021)


Of all South African undergraduates are enrolled at Siyaphumelela institutions


Siyaphumelela, which means “We Succeed” in Xhosa, was launched in 2014 by Saide and The Kresge Foundation. Initially composed of five pilot institutions, the Siyaphumelela Network 3.0 will soon expand to include up to 20 of the 26 universities in South Africa.

In 2015, 15 South African delegates attended the annual DREAM conference. Siyaphumelela has continued to send representatives to DREAM every year. In 2021, due to the surge of virtual events during the coronavirus pandemic, a record number of South African delegates — over 100 — were able to attend DREAM 2021. Siyaphumelela’s increased participation not only at DREAM but also at year-round ATD events, such as the Data & Analytics Summit, has enriched the Network and provided more opportunities for cross-cultural learning.

As the work continues to expand, ATD coaches and experts are poised to support their South African peers through continued workshops, training, and knowledge sharing.

Since 2018, higher education leaders in New Zealand have also been part of the growing knowledge exchange. Delegates from New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) have participated in ATD events for the last five years and in 2023, the head of the TEC keynoted Siyaphumelela’s annual conference in South Africa. As the international conversation expands, ATD continues to support peers and collaborators and the Network continues to benefit from global insights.



Siyaphumelela Members


  • University of Cape Town (since July 2020)
  • University of Free State (since 2015)
  • Durban University of Technology (since 2016)
  • Nelson Mandela University (since 2015)
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal (since July 2020)
  • University of the Western Cape (since July 2020)
  • University of the Witwatersrand (since 2015)


  • University of Pretoria (since 2015)


  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology (since 2020)
  • North-West University (since 2021)
  • Rhodes University (since 2022)
  • Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (since 2022)
  • Sol Plaatje University (since 2020)
  • University of Johannesburg (since 2022)
  • University of Venda (since 2020)
  • Vaal University of Technology (since 2022)
  • Walter Sisulu University (since 2020)
  • University of Zululand (only for 2020)
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