twenty years after Losinsky et al.’s (2003) study, the challenges of physical access still persist in South Africanhighereducation. It is not unexpected that students with disabilities make up less than 1 per cent of the total student population in SAHE (FOTIM 2011). Those that make it into highereducation have to struggle with physical access (Losinsky et al. 2003; Engelbretch and De Beer 2014; Mutanga and Walker 2015) and attitudinal problems of their peers and staff (Howell 2005). There is no full participation for students with disabilities in SAHE (Lourens 2015; Lourens, McKinney and Swartz 2016). This is despite the fact that it has been a decade since South Africa signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The convention is an international human rights treaty that is supposed to protect the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. Among the reasons for low participation in highereducation by students with disabilities is limited institutional support, as disability matters are not prioritised by most highereducation institutions (Tugli et al. 2013; Ohajunwa, McKenzie, Hardy and Lorenzo 2014) and lack of political commitment from the government (Matshedisho 2007b). As a result of these challenges, it is evident that access to highereducation does not guarantee that students with disabilities can access education and success once they arrive at university. Below, I look at what studies say about the support available for students with disabilities in SAHE.
This article analyses patterns of international academic mobility and the experiences of foreign staff at South Africanhighereducation institutions. Using the “pull and push factors” as a conceptual framework, it argues that the patterns of international academic staff mobility follow the pattern of international cross-border migrants. These are driven mainly by the pull factors which include quest for better opportunities in life including education. This study used both quantitative and qualitative methods to uncover the motivations and experiences of foreign academics in South Africa. The article uses three sources of data namely documentary analysis, statistical data from the Department of Education’s HigherEducation Management Information System (HEMIS), and data from questionnaires that were distributed to foreign academic staff at the three South African universities; namely, the University of Pretoria, University of South Africa, and University of the Witwatersrand. For the foreign academic staff working in South Africa, it was demonstrated that they have both positive and negative experiences. The negative experiences seem to be related to the major nation building project to overcome racism and xenophobia. The principles of non-racialism and, non-discrimination need to be promoted in order to build an inclusive and socially coherent society.
Danri Delport’s article contributes to the discourse regarding Education 4.0. In this study, Delport explores the use of a digital learning tool termed MindTap Math Foundations. Delport’s study is the first study in South Africanhighereducation that explored the MindTap Math Foundations digital learning tool at a South African university. This digital learning tool claims to bring elements from the interactive, gamified world to transform learning so that students stay engaged, persist through challenges, feel more supported and connected to instructors, other students, as well as their own learning experience. Thus, this study aimed to assess the effectiveness of MindTap Math Foundations as a digital learning tool with the findings of the study confirming the perceived benefits for learning numeracy through student feedback.
Private HigherEducation (PHE) is perceived in South Africa to deliver programmes of questionable quality in search of profit maximisation (CHE 2016, 84). To curb this perception, the Council on HigherEducation (CHE) has instituted strict regulations with regard to accrediting qualifications presented by institutions of higher learning. To determine the contributions of PHE to the South Africanhighereducation landscape, this article evaluates a registered management programme, recommended by the HigherEducation Quality Committee (HEQC) of the CHE, and the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) (CHE, 2013). Using Kirkpatrick’s (1996) four- level model of training programme evaluation as the theoretical framework, the management programme was evaluated to determine its contribution to the South Africanhighereducation landscape. The four levels included the perception of the learners, the knowledge gained by the learners, the learners’ performance in the workplace and the return on investment. Other stakeholders, such as the sponsors and students’ line managers, were interviewed to determine whether the programme had contributed to work outputs. Overall, the results show that the programme is contributing to the development of highereducation in South Africa.
Previous research explored occupational stressors and coping strategies amongst academics in other countries (Abbas & Roger, 2013; Ablanedo-Rosas, Blevins, Gao, Teng, & White, 2011; Broadbent, 2013; Darabi et al., 2017; Holton, Barry, & Chaney, 2016; Johnson, Willis, & Evans, 2018; Poalses & Bezuidenhout, 2018), but researchers have devoted little attention to producing a more holistic view of coping with occupational stress in a South Africanhighereducation context. Researchers have also become increasingly interested in emotional experiences during stressful life events (such as chronic illnesses), but have devoted little attention to the emotions that employees experience when confronted with occupational stressors. From a positive psychology perspective, it is important for academics to identify occupational stressors in their respective institutions and to develop solutions to eliminate them.
Bozalek and Leibowitz (2013) tell several stories of exclusion. One involves a young African student, Lindi, from a rural area in South Africa. She had been the top student in her school, and was well known in her community; however, shortly after she gained admission to a historically white university, she was quickly made to feel a stranger for whom there was no care and concern. Another story recounts a Nigerian medical student who was expected by her classmates to sell drugs even while tending to patients; and yet another tells of a colored youngster who could not focus on exams as he did not have enough money to pay his fees. For these young people, marginalization, exclusion and deprivation coalesced through a multiplicity of factors, and access alone could not be translated into success. Their plight is poignantly patent in low graduation rates.
In the light of the above discussion, the main research question of this study was formulated as follows: How is doctoral thesis examination administered at selected South African HEIs? To address this question, a qualitative study was undertaken at six South African universities to gather rich data from a purposeful sample of expert informants. The aim was not to compare universities as such, but to examine the administration of thesis examination, the limitations experienced and the way in which these are addressed with the view to making recommendations for the more effective examination of doctorates. The inquiry was informed by Lave and Wenger’s (1991) notion of a Community of Practice (CoP) which served as theoretical framework for the study.
The widening of access to highereducation (HE) for more students has been a strategic priority of the South African (SA) Department of HigherEducation and Training (DHET) over the past decade. Simultaneously, lecturers are increasingly held to account for providing quality teaching and delivering employable graduates. Yet their work environment is characterised by poor support, lack of recognition for teaching efforts, and absence of legal protection when failing to fulfil the undefined yet high accountability expectations in their teaching-related work. Within existing HE research the authors could not find a clear definition of accountability or of professional security specifically related to the work of the HE lecturer. This study thus aimed to develop definitions for these concepts by means of a review of the legal framework for accountability and security in SA HE, and a qualitative empirical study. The latter was approached from an interpretive- phenomenological perspective to develop a clear understanding of how SA lecturers involved in undergraduate teaching at three SA universities perceive accountability and security within their labour environment. From the analysis and interpretation of semi-structured and focus group interview data, seven meaningful themes were identified, associated with either lecturer accountability or security. The findings thus offer not only a clear delineation of internal and external teaching-related accountability, but also a comprehensive definition of lecturer professional security.
A blended learning approach was encouraged, founded on pedagogy that puts the student at the centre of learning. The action research project promoted flexible learning and teaching provision that included e-learning but did not equal e-learning. The latter has the opportunity to allow universities to extend their campus-based service to distant and online modes. Technology then, or e-learning was viewed as a medium, a means to achieve success and not an end in itself (Njenga and Fourie 2010) and this notion is supported by Crawford and Mckenzie (2011) who have studied the impact of local contexts on technology use and outcomes. They found that, instead of democratising the education process, the exclusive use of technology can exacerbate historical social inequalities.
According to Steiner-Khamsi (2006) the economics of policy lending and borrowing, aligns to the economic reasons for borrowing a specific education reform. In other words, the economic justification for policy borrowing refers to a situation in which policy adoption is aid - dependent, that is a ‘precondition for receiving aid’ from donor agencies and international organisations; and in line with this, the implementation of such borrowed policies may only last if there is external funding. Steiner-Khamsi (2006) remarked that, indeed a time has come for nations to have a specific reform when international funding for implementing that particular reform is secured. The economics of policy lending and borrowing also helps to explain why education reforms in low income nations increasingly bear a resemblance to those in developed nations (Steiner-Khamsi, 2006). According to Levin (1998), initially one sees much commonality in the themes that emerge across countries, suggesting that national and regional governments do learn (or borrow) from each other and the rationale why nations learn (or borrow) from each other largely tie with economic rationales for change. These include, first, the need for change in education is largely cast in economic terms and particularly in relation to the preparation of a workforce and competition with other countries (Levin, 1998, p.131). Second, educational change is occurring in the context of large-scale criticism of schools as government policy documents typically take the view that school systems have failed to deliver what is required and that the failure is especially lamentable in view of the high level of spending on education. Third, large-scale change is not accompanied by substantially increased financial commitments to schools by governments posing problems in education (Levin, 1998, p.132). Fourth, considerable attention has been given to making schooling more like a commercial or market commodity’ (Levin, 1998, p.133). Samoff (2001), Chisholm and Leyendecker (2008) and Vavrus (2004) therefore affirmed that the economic rationale for policy borrowing is known to be common amongst underdeveloped nations that are aid - dependent – needing change or reform in their HE systems (Vuban, 2018). 3
On the structural level, the Bologna Process has led to greater convergence in the architecture of national HE systems. The overall broadness of the guidelines expressed in communiqués and related texts, however, allows countries and institutions to maintain specific characteristics for most programs (Crosier & Parveva, 2013). Two long-established elements of the ‘Bologna toolkit’ are the ECTS and the Diploma Supplement. ECTS was developed in the late 1980s, prior to the launch of the Bologna Process, to facilitate credit transfer in the Erasmus program and thus to foster student mobility. Over the decade since the year 2000, it has become a cornerstone of the implementation of the Bologna reforms. ECTS plays now an important part in curriculum design and in validating a range of learning achievements (academic or not). In this system, credits reflect the total workload required to achieve the objectives of program-objectives which are specified in terms of the learning outcomes and competences to be acquired-and not just through lecture hours. It makes study programs easy to read and compare for all students, local and foreign, and therefore facilitates mobility and academic recognition (EUA, 2010). Proper implementation of ECTS is one of the essential tools for reaching the Bologna goals. The use of ECTS for accumulation not only makes programs more transparent and supports the use of learning outcomes earned at another institution at home or abroad, but also those earned outside the formal education system (Crosier & Parveva, 2013).
For many years South Africa has had a history of cost sharing highereducation. Cost sharing refers to a shift of costs as a burden for the government or taxpayers to being shared with parents and students (Johnstone 2003). Prior to the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, highereducation policies were problematic (Odhav 2009). The issues of “free” highereducation and frequent tuition fee increases have been debated regularly since as early as the 1960s (Langa, Wangenge-Ouma, Jungblut and Cloete 2016). After 1994, black students in particular were demanding “free” highereducation (Wangenge-Ouma 2012). As a result, major shifts took place in terms of broadening access to South Africa’s highereducation system, especially to previously disadvantaged groups of the society (DHET 2012). If access and ethnic representation are seen as indicators for change, South Africanhighereducation has undergone significant changes in recent years (Cloete 2016), but from international experience James (2007) holds the opinion that “free” highereducation will not improve equity as there is little evidence anywhere in the world that it has widened participation on a grand scale.
At the moment, we remain optimistic about the pedagogical advantages of MOOCs in the sense that students are included in pedagogical activities and are recognised for their coming to speech. In this way, learning though MOOCs is potentially liberating in the sense that students can act autonomously with pedagogical content and even contribute towards (re)shaping such content. MOOCs cannot be considered acritical pedagogical courses primarily because the potential is always there for students to act with an openness to others’ points of view without necessarily withholding and/or abandoning their own critical judgements. Such a form of learning then is associated not only with criticism in a Foucauldian sense but also with the cultivation of democratic experiences that are yet to come for the reason that what is yet to come is contrived and deliberated on collectively or democratically. Such democratic encounters would invariably motivate students and curriculum developers towards considering their work as always in potentiality as there is always more to be known because one cannot completely know at a given point in time. Our MOOC experiences have been guided by what is still to come, as ongoing critical student feedback on new pedagogical courses invariably influences the authenticity of curriculum (re)design and development. At the time of concluding this article, the MOOC (‘Teaching for Change’) had just run its second course on the FutureLearn platform. After our evaluation of the second group of students’ comments we have come to understand that their pedagogic authorities have been deepened by their willingness to come into presence of one another – that is, their own acts of decolonisation have been significantly guided by the willingness and openness to rupture the fractured notions of Africanhighereducation that have dominated the continent for so long. In turn, these students have given us more optimism that changing pedagogic encounters vis-à-vis decolonised teaching and learning discourses can happen only on account of disrupting the present with the aim to engender what is perhaps yet unimaginable!
In contrast to the above assumptions of the pedagogic space as a given or static entity (whether a classroom or instructional modality), here it is argued that it is a meaningful socio-cultural or socially constructed space (Kostogriz 2006; Stevenson 2008). It requires the exploration and critique of symbolic, cultural and discursive practices within and outside of the classroom. A step further, these very sites themselves are interrogated as socio-cultural or discursive constructions; as sites of social, cultural or discursive contestations and marginalisation (Kostogriz and Peeler 2007). This includes contestations regarding identities, roles, authorisation, hierarchies, knowledge and representation (Bozalek and Zembylas 2017). For example, the ongoing interrogation of the South Africanhighereducation curricula and sites of learning illustrates how the assumption of a fixed, universal or a priori template of pedagogic space is being challenged. These contestations open up the question of the textuality of the constructed and experienced pedagogic space. This means that the architecture is approached as a socio-cultural or discursive construction within everyday exchanges. However, this understanding still does not address the materiality of the architecture and, by implication, how we account for the materiality of pedagogic spaces.
The problem of access to highereducation is linked to socioeconomic, geographic and racial differences among women in South Africa. South African women generally have struggled to make inroads into highereducation, having to compete with their male counterparts in terms of access. Meanwhile reports indicate that in past decades just 1 per cent of women in South Africa had the opportunity to access highereducation this figure later increased (Moodie 2010). The consistent structural problems experienced in terms of gender inequality is a reflection of profound disparities in institutions of higher learning. In the post-apartheid era the number of women entering HEIs in South Africa has increased; nevertheless, the prospects for women to attain higher positions in workplace are modest (Akala and Divala 2016). In South Africa, the majority of women and girls still struggle to access education and excel at most levels, thus contravening the Constitution which guarantees equality for all (Commission for Gender Equality 2015). Although the South African Constitution recognises education as a fundamental human right, areas of marginalisation still exist within the current education system in terms of access. Recently, enrolment rates of female students accessing highereducation have increased, leading to some formidable achievements especially for black South African women (CHE 2009). In contrast with the apartheid era, efforts have been made to ensure a shift from segregation to equity and equality, especially for the groups of women who previously experienced barriers to accessing highereducation. Furthermore, the Department of HigherEducation and Training (DHET) white paper of 1995 prefaces the need for non- discrimination, equity of access and fair chances for women (DHET 2016). Similarly, the inclusion of an equity clause in highereducation was aimed at a process of reform to assist HEIs to overcome gender disparity. For instance, the equity paradigm in South Africanhighereducation was adopted in order to expand opportunities for women who might have been side lined in the past (Machingambi 2011).
Africanhighereducation must be a driver of change and transformation in the distribution of knowledge, contributing to social and economic enhancement both as a player and an agent in Africa. We argue that educators for the continent are best trained in Africa, and that all African states should collaborate to develop the next generation of professionals, technocrats and intellectuals who are capacitated to solve the continent’s challenges. Ultimately, Africa could meet many of its skills needs through strengthening African intellectual métissage and specifically capacity-enhancement through its highereducation system. Overall, highereducation in Africa should be developed to become a regionally articulated system which allows for the mobility of students and cross-fruition due to the interaction among African universities in the course of their degree programmes. African intellectual métissage provides critical support for deliberative engagement, recognition of otherness and citizenship in its broadest sense. The present transformation and de-colonisation debate in South Africanhighereducation highlights the importance of endogenously driven transformation processes. African intellectual métissage should be infused in the ongoing South Africanhighereducation transformation debate, and could inspire similar processes in other post-colonial contexts.
On the state of universities in South Africa Jansen (2003:9) prefers to describe the condition as the ‘declining state of universities in South Africa’. In his article Jansen identifies five major concerns he has about South Africanhighereducation. The fourth and fifth concerns are relevant to our discussion here. Jansen (2003:10) identifies the decline of quality and volume of research output. This is in spite of government support and international financial input to build and develop a new level of competence. Jansen (2003:10) identifies at the root of this problem the level of teaching: a reduction of education to remediation in the form of academic development and an emphasis on technological innovation. Knowledge should not only be transmitted but it should transform (Jansen 2003:11). Closely connected to this is the fifth concern. Jansen (2003:11) raises the issue of the replacement of the voice of criticism that tertiary institutions had during the anti-apartheid struggle with a voice of complaint in order to serve institutional self-interest in terms of funding and support from government.
Our multicultural leadership team of four Southern African women brings together diverse cultural heritages, ethnicities, histories, languages, nationalities, and perspectives. Theresa, for example, was born and grew up in a rural environment in Zambia, before entering university in that country and being introduced to everything “modern” for lack of a better term. Doing graduate studies and working abroad has meant that she had to transition between cultures and constantly do cultural-code-switching (Molinsky, 2007). Delysia describes herself as multicultural as she is biracial, drawing from Black/African and White cultures in South Africa. Thenjiwe is an African Black woman who defines her existence as an explosive conglomeration of many “reserves,” which are made up mainly of the Zulu 1 oral tradition. Her culture is drawn from an unwritten culture of the Inanda
students from the underprivileged black communities who enlisted at previously white universities, wind up feeling unwelcome at those institutions. Nehawu further presented that a disguised type of prejudice is rising in post-politically-sanctioned racial segregation South Africa. This type of prejudice frequently dodges racial phrasing, while at the same time remaining positively imbedded in the everyday activities of numerous organizations. As indicated by Nehawu, this type of prejudice drives institutional culture. Alluding to Randall (2006), Nehawu featured that the peril in institutional prejudice is that it is frequently obviously and secretively imbedded in the establishment’s way of life, foundational strategies and rehearses and that such societies, arrangements and practices are regularly not racially roused, however are persuaded by reasons, for example, effectiveness, profitability and meritocracy. In such conditions, the most serious risk may lie in that people and additionally institutions of highereducation may not know about the embedded types of prejudice (SAHRC Report 2016). It is evident from this report that after almost 23 years of democracy in South Africa, some of the universities are still lagging behind in terms of transformation and their institutional culture. This has led to the recent campaigns like “Rhodes Must Fall”, “Fees Must Fall” and the “Outsourcing Must Fall” protests. The government in trying to remedy the situation set up a Fees Commission of Inquiry, trying to find a better model of funding students at universities. Figure 3 indicates the gender disparities at institutions of HE in South Africa.
Transformation calls for research that critically deconstructs the historical development of the academic disciplines such as the colonial archives and canons (Luckett 2016). Yet African knowledge systems cannot exist in isolation from global systems (Chirikure 2016). Dei (2000, cited in Le Grange 2016, 6) points out that bodies of knowledge continually influence one another and that rendering indigenous knowledge as “good” and Western knowledge as “bad” creates a false dichotomy. Therefore, decolonised curricula give indigenous African knowledge systems an equal and valid place among the array of knowledge systems in the world (Higgs 2016). Africa needs knowledge that addresses its needs and challenges (Chirikure 2016). The university classroom and the way knowledge is taught need to be decolonised (Mbembe 2016a). Decolonisation has to do with knowledge production, but also with the lived experiences of students.