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CHE > Media and Publications > Che Events Presentations > Keynote address at the 5th CHE Consultative Conference
Prof. Brian O’Connell
November, 2003
University of the Western Cape

Keynote address presented by Prof. Brian O'Connel, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape at the Council on Higher Education's 5th Consultative Conference on Higher Education 1997-2003, held in Pretoria on 12 November 2003.

I thought of a number of different ways to structure this address. The easiest might have been simply to name some of the “big” changes made from 1997 and to write a few critical comments on each one. Another was to list a number of significant policy concerns and hold them up for scrutiny. I chose rather to use a device borrowed from Saleem Badat in a paper entitled Strategising Higher Education Reform : 13 Propositions Informed by the South African Higher Education Transformation Process, 1994 – 2003. My propositions though are somewhat different, as are some of my arguments.

  • Proposition 1: Knowledge Matters
  • Proposition 2: Higher education institutions are a national treasure 
  • Proposition 3: South Africa does not quite trust and does not quite respect its HE sector
  • Proposition 4: Government has decided to govern
  • Proposition 5: There is much that does need fixing, but who are the fixers? 
  • Proposition 6: We have not lost our belief in magic
  • Proposition 7: The HE plan is a good framework for HE delivery but a not uncomplicated one, or one and one often do not make two
  • Proposition 8: Mergers are sometimes necessary, but the reasons must be compelling: or mergers are hell
  • Proposition 9: Approached with wisdom and care, the quality assurance regime could hasten the transformation of Higher Education
  • Proposition 10: Student Development in the broadest sense is, mistakenly, not a priority in the HE transformation plans


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