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UKZN Student Support and Wellness Solution Receives Global Praise



UKZN Student Support and Wellness Solution Receives Global Praise

UKZN Student Support and Wellness Solution Receives Global Praise. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has received global acclaim for its innovative student support and wellness solution. The recognition came from Hyland UK, the developer of the OnBase software suite that powers this system. At Hyland’s global summit in Johannesburg, UKZN’s representative, Pillay, showcased the Swat solution and was awarded for the best implementation of a digital solution for student support and wellness.

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The Significance of the Recognition

Pillay emphasized the importance of this recognition, noting that it underscores how effectively the software has been utilized to enhance student well-being. “They saw how I used their software to enhance the well-being of people. I’m actively engaging people and bringing them into a hybrid space via a digital solution,” said Pillay.

Development of the Digital Strategy

In 2020, amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, UKZN’s Student Support Services, along with Professor Sinegugu Duma, the Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Health Sciences (CHS), spearheaded a digital strategy aimed at boosting student engagement and holistic wellness for sustainable academic success. This initiative involved collaboration with the university’s Information and Communication Division and the Academic Computing Division. Together, they developed an automated system integrated with UKZN’s learning management system.

Pilot and Implementation

The system was initially piloted with a few disciplines in 2021 and was successfully rolled out to the entire CHS first-year cohort in 2022. This automated Swat Assessment model is a student-centered wellness solution that evaluates various aspects of student well-being, including emotional, psychosocial, intellectual and academic, occupational and career, environmental, spiritual and cultural, physical and biological, and the impact of the Covid pandemic. It identifies at-risk students and provides automated referrals for timely and appropriate interventions.

Pillay Long-term Involvement

Pillay, based in the CHS, has been implementing the wellness model for many years. She highlighted the importance of targeting first-year students, noting that this period is particularly challenging and crucial for student retention and success. “The model is targeted at students entering the university because we know the first year is the most difficult and without support one can lose motivation or fail,” she explained.

Adapting to the Covid-19 Pandemic

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced a shift to virtual learning, UKZN saw an opportunity to enhance their support systems. “This was a wonderful opportunity to revisit how we do things and how we now can better support students in the virtual space,” said Pillay. The decision was made to digitize the Swat intervention, and work on this digitization began in 2021.

Future Plans and International Acclaim

The plan is to extend this system university-wide, ensuring all first-year students benefit from it. The system has received international acclaim, with many higher education institutions recognizing the significant benefits it could offer to their own student success programs.


UKZN innovative approach to student support and wellness has not only enhanced the well-being and academic success of its students but has also set a benchmark for other institutions worldwide. The recognition from Hyland UK at their global summit is a testament to the system’s effectiveness and the dedication of the team behind its development and implementation.

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