South African undergraduates have trouble making friends, survey reveals



The Global Student Survey 2023 reports that 53% of South African students, the second-highest percentage of any country surveyed, struggle to make friends.

It has also been discovered that students all across the world are worried, sleep poorly, and have difficulty making new acquaintances.

Heather Hatlo Porter, head of and chief Communications officer of Chegg, Inc., argues that learners require mental health assistance in order to maximise their education, and face the future with confidence.

Sixty-seven percent of South African students say they do not get enough, while 60% experience daily feelings of anxiety

While South African students appear to view GenAI as a helpful learning support tool, they still see room for improvement, with 59% of all South African students surveyed calling for the involvement of human expertise in generating answers.

At the same time, of the 33% who say they have used GenAI for their studies, 40% are concerned about receiving incorrect or inaccurate information.

More than two-thirds (67%) also say they struggled with getting enough sleeping and 60% say they experience daily feelings of anxiety. Almost half (49%) say they have experienced academic burnout.

However, more than two years on from Covid lockdowns, South African students generally appear to have a positive outlook: 73% say that in general, all things considered, they feel happy, while 68% say they feel optimistic.

But only around half (52%) of South African students surveyed feel their country is a good place to live — the second lowest of all countries after Turkey (47%).

“Although students are starting to adopt GenAI to support their learning, it’s clear they see room for improvement. Students want GenAI learning tools that provide accurate, reliable study support. Crucially, according to our survey, the top priority for improving technology among all those surveyed in South Africa was the involvement of human expertise. An analysis of our internal research found that students are mainly using GenAI for writing tasks and are not yet fully leveraging the technology for STEM subjects,” said Hatlo Porter.

“By elevating the voices of students and listening to their concerns, we can gain profound insights into how to support them. Crucially, as we enter this new age of AI, we will better understand how to harness the full potential of this technology, enabling students to learn how they want, what they want, when they want, and in their preferred format, which will ultimately help them on their lifelong learning journey.”

The new findings are among those published by, the non-profit arm of education technology company Chegg.

They are based on in-depth opinion polling by Yonder Consulting of over 11 000 undergraduate students aged 18–21 across 15 countries, including 503 students in South Africa.

This third Global Student Survey is the most comprehensive, up-to-date survey of the lives, hopes and concerns of undergraduate students across the world as they enter the age of AI.

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