South African Higher Education in the First Decade of Democracy

CHE > Media and Publications > Research > South African Higher Education in the First Decade of Democracy
November, 2004

Foreword

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) is an independent statutory body established by the Higher Education Act of 1997. Its mandate is to advise the Minister of Education on all matters of higher education (HE), so as to bring equity and quality into the system and help it respond to economic and social development needs, provide effective and efficient management; and contribute to the public good. The CHE is responsible, through its Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), for quality assurance. It must regularly report on the state of South African higher education and contribute to its general development.

The tenth anniversary of South Africa’s democracy is a timely opportunity to reflect on a decade of policy-making and policy implementation aimed at transforming South African higher education. South African Higher Education in the First Decade of Democracy describes and analyses contemporary conditions within South African higher education and the changes that have occurred during the past decade, with particular reference to what we inherited in 1994. More specifically, the report:

  • Describes and analyses the state and conditions of South African higher education in 1994, given the available information, data and statistics.
  • Provides as comprehensive a description and analysis of the contemporary state of South African higher education as is possible, given the available information, data and statistics.
  • Describes and analyses the changes that have occurred during the past decade.
  • Crystallises the key trends within South African higher education, identifying continuities and developments and changes occurring in South African higher education.
  • Identifies the major challenges that confront South African higher education at system and institutional levels.

South African Higher Education in the First Decade of Democracy begins by making the ‘case’ for higher education, as a vital social domain and activity in general, and specifically in relation to the reconstruction and transformation agenda in South Africa. Using as a framework the inheritance of 1994, developments in the past ten years, the situation today, and critical issues and key challenges in the coming years, it then looks at:

  • Legal and Policy Context
  • Institutional Landscape
  • Equity
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Research
  • Community Engagement
  • Quality Assurance
  • Responsiveness
  • Governance
  • Financing
  • Internationalisation.

Finally, Chapter 13, South African Higher Education: Past, Present and Future, crystallises the significant elements of the system, its continuities and changes, and the challenges and critical issues that confront the system and the institutions.

Over 80 figures and tables convey a wealth of statistical and other information about the changes and contemporary conditions in South African higher education.

South African Higher Education in the First Decade of Democracy seeks to:

  • Stimulate debate and discussion among policy-makers, stakeholders and scholars around the information this report has assembled and the analysis it has produced.
  • Serve as a valuable resource for higher education researchers, administrators and policy-makers.
  • Give further effect to the CHE’s commitment to publishing and disseminating knowledge and information on higher education, including ever more comprehensive accounts of the state of higher education in South Africa.

In providing an overview of conditions in higher education during the past ten years, South African Higher Education in the First Decade of Democracy also serves in part as a point of departure for a colloquium in November 2004 of higher education leaders, senior government officials, policy-makers, advisers and analysts, local and overseas intellectuals and scholars, and a range of key higher education stakeholders.

The Colloquium, Ten Years of Democracy and Higher Education Change, held by the CHE in association with the South African Universities Vice-Chancellors Association and the Committee of Technikon Principals, seeks to promote open, honest and critical engagement on the higher education transformation process and its current outcomes, in the context of the political and economic changes undergone by South Africa since 1994 and the value and policy underpinnings of higher education transformation and its implementation dynamics.

High quality higher education is crucial for social equity, economic and social development and a vibrant democracy and civil society. If higher education does not produce knowledgeable, competent and skilled graduates, generating research and knowledge, and undertaking responsive community service, then equity, development and democracy will all be constrained. The challenges of reconstruction, social transformation and development are tremendous. Higher education must not fail to establish the new priorities and satisfy the new needs of a democratic South Africa.

Mr Saki Macozoma

CHE Chairperson

2004