Apart from financial aid, many first-year students from educationally disadvantaged communities also need academic support. SU approaches this from a holistic and multifaceted perspective, providing support within the academic sphere as well as in students' living spaces. As residence students generally perform better academically, because they have easier access to support than, for example, commuting students who depend on public transport, the overhaul of SU's residence placement policy – which is scheduled for completion in 2013 – will also consider vulnerable students' needs.
For practical and financial reasons, a high throughput rate is essential. Therefore, the University has numerous initiatives to ensure student success, including extended degree programmes; facilities such as the new AmaMaties cluster hub; listening, living and learning (LLL) houses; the First-year Academy; the first-generation camp; the annual welcoming programme for newcomer students, and the clustering of residences and private wards. This promotes diversity and ensures a more complete campus experience as well as student success.
- The AmaMaties cluster hub is a unique learning and living centre that integrates students' academic and social lives, and offers a space where residence and private (PSO) students are able to interact. Here, living and learning spaces merge. The hub is a result of SU's unique ResEd programme, which is aimed at greater integration of PSO and residence students' university experience.
- LLL houses are home to a diverse group of senior students (different nationalities, races, genders, backgrounds and disciplines) for a period of one year, during which they have regular house debates on a specific theme. This creates the opportunity for new ideas to be born. Academics, entrepreneurs and experts are invited to participate in the debates. Each LLL house also has a small community project in which residents of the house participate.
- The first-generation camp is aimed at students who are the first members of their families to study at SU. These students are assisted to overcome various personal and academic challenges, and are offered the best opportunity to succeed in all spheres of student life. The camp provides newcomers with a taste of what campus life has to offer, but also helps prepare them for the demands of being a university student, inter alia through leadership development, critical interaction, training in study techniques and financial management education.
- Diverse ideas and views also call for an international perspective. The Postgraduate and International Office caters to the needs of South African students who complete part of their programmes abroad, as well as international students who enrol at SU.