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UKZN Using Automated Solution to Monitor, Support Students’ Academic and Holistic Wellness



UKZN Using Automated Solution to Monitor, Support Students' Academic and Holistic Wellness

UKZN Using Automated Solution to Monitor, Support Students’ Academic and Holistic Wellness. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has introduced an innovative approach to support the academic and holistic wellness of its students through an automated solution. Initially piloted among 9,000 students in the College of Health Sciences, the university plans to extend this solution to all 53,000 students.

Dr. Saloschini Pillay, the student support services manager, highlighted the initiative’s significance in a recent presentation.

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Evolution of the SWAT Programme

The automated Student Wellness and Academic Transformation (SWAT) programme is an evolution of the university’s previous initiatives. Since 2005, UKZN has implemented Teaching and Learning, Student Support Services, and Academic Monitoring and Support programmes. These were designed to assist first-year students through consistent engagement.

The SWAT programme builds on these foundations, leveraging technology to enhance support.

Objectives and Benefits

The primary goal of the SWAT programme is to foster student engagement with support services, ensuring sustainable academic success and holistic wellness. According to Dr. Pillay, the focus is not just on academic performance but on developing well-rounded individuals capable of succeeding globally.

The programme emphasizes that student success encompasses more than grades or degrees; it includes wellness across multiple dimensions, reflecting the comprehensive student experience at university.

Key Functionalities of the Automated System

The SWAT system incorporates several key functionalities to support students effectively:

  1. Automated Communication and Wellness Profiling: The system automates communication with students, sending notifications, messages, and reminders about counselling and other support services.
  2. Priority Levels and Escalations: Based on responses to an orientation questionnaire, students are categorized into different priority levels. The system assigns tasks to mentors, tutors, and staff accordingly, ensuring timely interventions. Priority cases are escalated if no progress is observed within specified turnaround times.
  3. Hybrid Interactions: The support programme includes both face-to-face and hybrid interactions, providing flexible and accessible support options.
  4. Comprehensive Engagement: Engagement begins from the first day students enter the university, with mentors and tutors facilitating orientation and continuous support throughout the academic year.

Addressing Diverse Student Needs

Dr. Pillay emphasized that student success must be viewed through the lenses of equity and inclusion. UKZN’s diverse student population, with varied backgrounds and challenges, requires personalized support. The automated system ensures equitable access to resources and tailored support, enabling all students to thrive regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Overcoming Challenges with Automation

The manual processes of the past were labor-intensive and inefficient. The transition to an automated system allows for better data management and effective student engagement. The system uses insights from years of student support experiences to design effective interventions and support mechanisms.

Continuous and Proactive Support

The SWAT programme supports students from their critical first year, aiming to prevent premature dropouts and help students cope with academic pressures. Continuous engagement is maintained throughout the year, with wellness assessments conducted to identify and mitigate risks. Students’ wellness profiles cover four domains, including academic wellness, ensuring comprehensive support.

Real-Time Data and Analytics

The automated system’s analytics provide real-time data, enabling proactive and pre-emptive responses to potential issues. This real-time capability is crucial for timely interventions and effective student support.


The SWAT programme at UKZN represents a significant advancement in supporting student success and wellness. By automating communication, profiling, and interventions, the university ensures timely and personalized support for its diverse student body. The programme not only enhances academic performance but also promotes holistic wellness, preparing students to excel in all aspects of their lives.

This integrated approach underscores UKZN’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive educational environment.

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