Engendering a Sense of Belonging to Support Student Well-Being during COVID-19: A Focus on Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 4
Le Grange, Lesley
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a plethora of inequalities in South Africa. These inequalities have had a direct impact on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 3 (good health and well-being) and SDG 4 (quality education) were the focus of this article. This article investigated how students enrolled at a South African residential university perceived the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their well-being, their success in completing their studies and their future career prospects. A quantitative survey research design was followed. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire from 537 students in a South African university. Statistical Package for Social Sciences software version 27 was used to analyze the data. The results indicated direct influences on student well-being from concerns that arose from COVID-19 about future job concerns, degree completion, social support and belonging. The relationship between concerns about degree completion was moderated by a sense of belonging (social identification) but not by social support. The study has significant implications for how higher education institution governors and academics might consider reconceptualizing notions of student support, beyond the narrow, technical and basic curriculum support for degree completion, towards the affective and social as it relates to creating conditions for students to identify with and experience a profound sense of belonging.