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Higher Education Pathways: South African Undergraduate Education and the Public Good

In what ways does access to undergraduate education have a transformative impact on people and societies? What conditions are required for this impact to occur? What are the pathways from an undergraduate education to the public good, including inclusive economic development?

These questions have particular resonance in the South African higher education context, which is attempting to tackle the challenges of widening access and improving completion rates
in in a system in which the segregations of the apartheid years
are still apparent.

Higher education is recognised in core legislation as having a distinctive and crucial role in building post-apartheid society. Undergraduate education is seen as central to addressing skills shortages in South Africa. It is also seen to yield significant social returns, including a consistent positive impact on societal institutions and the development of a range of capabilities that
have public, as well as private, benefits.

This book offers comprehensive contemporary evidence that allows for a fresh engagement with these pressing issues.

Research Universities in Africa

From the early 2000s, a new discourse emerged, in Africa and the international donor community, that higher education was important for development in Africa. Within this ‘zeitgeist’ of converging interests, a range of agencies agreed that a different, collaborative approach to linking higher education to development was necessary. This led to the establishment of the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa (Herana) to concentrate on research and advocacy about the possible role and contribution of universities to development in Africa.

 

This book is the final publication to emerge from the Herana project. The project has also published more than 100 articles, chapters, reports, manuals and datasets, and many presentations have been delivered to share insights gained from the work done by Herana. Given its prolific dissemination, it seems reasonable to ask whether this fourth and final publication will offer the reader anything new.

 

This book is certainly different from previous publications in several respects. First, it is the only book to include an analysis of eight African universities based on the full 15 years of empirical data collected by the project. Second, previous books and reports were published mid-project. This book has benefited from an extended gestation period allowing the authors and contributors to reflect on the project without the distractions associated with managing and participating in a large-scale project. For the first time, some of those who have been involved in Herana since its inception have had the opportunity to at least make an attempt to see part of the wood for the trees.

Different does not necessarily mean new. An emphasis on the ‘newness’ of the data and perspectives presented in this book is important because it shows that it is more than a historical record of a donor-funded project. Rather, each chapter in this book brings, to a lesser or greater extent, something new to our understanding of universities, research and development in Africa.

 

“This is an important book, synthesising 15 years of carefully gathered data and analysis, digging deep into the institutional lives of some of Africa’s best-known universities, and asking challenging questions about what it means to produce knowledge for society and whether these universities are really being enabled to do so. It offers a substantive guide to university leaders and planners, and by connecting empirical evidence to an examination of incentives, funding systems and policy prescriptions, it highlights the competing and contradictory pressures that many institutions and their staff face – and which must be urgently resolved if the potential of African higher education – for the world, not just the continent – is to be realised.”
– Jonathan Harle, Director of Programmes, INASP, Oxford

 

“The higher education landscape in Africa has changed considerably in the last two decades. Research universities are emerging as the more competitive of the universities in each country. Their effectiveness is driven by national and institutional cultures and the ability of leadership to manage change. This book documents, in a way no other book has done, the nature of the changes taking place in the region and the forces behind them. It is very analytical and it is very informative. Above all, it is comprehensive and essential reference material.”
– Ernest Aryeetey, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana & Secretary-General, African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA)

 

“Research Universities in Africa is a welcome addition to the academic literature on African universities. This well-researched book which, in addition to the contribution of the main three authors, incorporates valuable inputs from a large number of researchers from sub-Saharan Africa and beyond, carefully analyses the challenges faced by African research universities through a skillful combination of theoretical pieces and case studies of eight universities. The book presents a balanced assessment of the role and potential contribution of research universities in the African context. The authors should be congratulated for this excellent contribution that can guide African universities all over the continent in thinking more strategically and achieving better results as they seek to develop their research capacity and increase the relevance of their research output.”
– Jamil Salmi, global tertiary education expert, former co-ordinator of tertiary education at the World Bank & Emeritus Professor of Higher Education Policy, Diego Portales University (Chile)

Anchored in Place: Rethinking universities and development in South Africa

Tensions in South African universities have traditionally centred around equity (particularly access and affordability), historical legacies (such as apartheid and colonialism), and the shape and structure of the higher education system. What has not received sufficient attention, is the contribution of the university to place-based development.

This volume is the first in South Africa to engage seriously with the place-based developmental role of universities. In the international literature and policy there has been an increasing integration of the university with place-based development, especially in cities. This volume weighs in on the debate by drawing attention to the place-based roles and agency of South African universities in their local towns and cities. It acknowledges that universities were given specific development roles in regions, homelands and towns under apartheid, and comments on why sub-national, place-based development has not been a key theme in post-apartheid, higher education planning.

Given the developmental crisis in the country, universities could be expected to play a more constructive and meaningful role in the development of their own precincts, cities and regions. But what should that role be? Is there evidence that this is already occurring in South Africa, despite the lack of a national policy framework? What plans and programmes are in place, and what is needed to expand the development agency of universities at the local level? Who and what might be involved? Where should the focus lie, and who might benefit most, and why? Is there a need perhaps to approach the challenges of college towns, secondary cities and metropolitan centers differently?

This book poses some of these questions as it considers the experiences of a number of South African universities, including Wits, Pretoria, Nelson Mandela University and especially Fort Hare as one of its post-centenary challenges.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

01 Approaches to the university, place and development, Leslie Bank
02 Universities as urban anchor institutions and the social contract in the developed world, David Perry & Villamizar-Duarte

Part 1: Putting South African Universities in their Place
03 Linking knowledge innovation and development in South Africa: National policy and regional variances, Samuel Fongwa
04 The engaged university and the specificity of place: The case of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, François van Schalkwyk & George de Lange
05 Challenges of university–city relationships: Reflections from Wits University and Johannesburg, Alan Mabin
06 Integrating the edges: University of Pretoria’s neighbourhood anchor strategy, Denver Hendricks & Jaime Flaherty
07 Developing an innovation ecosystem through a university coordinated innovation platform: The University of Fort Hare, Sara Grobbelaar

Part 2: A Century of Place-Making: The University of Fort Hare
08 Fort Hare in post-apartheid South Africa, Nico Cloete & Ian Bunting
09 University–community engagement as place-making? A case of the University of Fort Hare and Alice, Jayshree Thakrar
10 Innovation or anchor strategy? City–campus inner city regeneration in East London-Buffalo City, Leslie Bank & Francis Sibanda
11 The politics and pathology of place: Student protests, occupy urbanism and the right to the city in East London, Leslie Bank & Mark Paterson
12 Anti-urbanism and nostalgia for a College Town, Leslie Bank

 

Going to University: The Influence of Higher Education on the Lives of Young South Africans

Around the world, more young people than ever before are attending university. Student numbers in South Africa have doubled since democracy and for many families, higher education is a route to a better future for their children. But alongside the overwhelming demand for higher education, questions about its purposes have intensified. Deliberations about the curriculum, culture and costing of public higher education abound from student activists, academics, parents, civil society and policy-makers.
We know, from macro research, that South African graduates generally have good employment prospects. But little is known at a detailed level about how young people actually make use of their university experiences to craft their life courses. And even less is known about what happens to those who drop out.
This accessible book brings together the rich life stories of 73 young people, six years after they began their university studies. It traces how going to university influences not only their employment options, but also nurtures the agency needed to chart their own way and to engage critically with the world around them.
The book offers deep insights into the ways in which public higher education is both a private and public good, and it provides significant conclusions pertinent to anyone who works in – and cares
about – universities.

Adoption and Impact of OER in the Global South

Education in the Global South faces several key interrelated challenges, for which Open Educational Resources (OER) are seen to be part of the solution. These challenges include: unequal access to education; variable quality of educational resources, teaching, and student performance; and increasing cost and concern about the sustainability of education. The Research on Open Educational Resources for Development (ROER4D) project seeks to build on and contribute to the body of research on how OER can help to improve access, enhance quality and reduce the cost of education in the Global South. This volume examines aspects of educator and student adoption of OER and engagement in Open Educational Practices (OEP) in secondary and tertiary education as well as teacher professional development in 21 countries in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia. The ROER4D studies and syntheses presented here aim to help inform Open Education advocacy, policy, practice and research in developing countries. read more

North-South Knowledge Networks: Towards Equitable Collaboration Between Academics, Donors and Universities

Since the 1990s, internationalisation has become key for institutions wishing to secure funding for higher education and research. For the academic community, this strategic shift has had many consequences. Priorities have changed and been influenced by new ways of thinking about universities, and of measuring their impact in relation to each other and to their social goals. Debates are ongoing and hotly contested.

In this collection, a mix of renowned academics and newer voices reflect on some of the realities of international research partnerships. They both question and highlight the agency of academics, donors and research institutions in the geopolitics of knowledge and power. The contributors offer fresh insights on institutional transformation, the setting of research agendas, and access to research funding, while highlighting the dilemmas researchers face when their institutions are vulnerable to state and donor influence.

Offering a range of perspectives on why academics should collaborate and what for, this book will be useful to anyone interested in how scholars are adapting to the realities of international networking and how research institutions are finding innovative ways to make North–South partnerships and collaborations increasingly fair, sustainable and mutually beneficial.