n South African Journal of Higher Education - The university in post-apartheid South Africa : new ethos and new divisions

Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Higher education in South Africa witnessed significant changes in the 1990s. Some of these changes are a consequence of post-apartheid legislation; others the consequence of global and local changes in the economy. This article argues that many policy goals have not been achieved. This is particularly true of those related to redressing inequities. So, while South African higher education has de-racialised significantly, the less regulated "market" atmosphere of post-apartheid South Africa has widened the divisions between historically privileged and historically black universities. This isn't surprising: institutions with cultural and economic capital will navigate change better than those who lack these. The interesting phenomenon is the fact that English and Afrikaans-language universities are developing in distinctly different directions. While all higher education institutions have, to some extent, been affected by the utilitarianism that currently pervades educational thinking, English universities have engaged with this warily while Afrikaans universities have embraced it. Consequently a new higher education configuration is emerging: <BR> . English universities seem to be setting themselves up as slightly modernised versions of the old elite academy; <BR> . Afrikaans universities and a rapidly growing private sector represent a new class of entrepreneurial universities, committed to professional qualifications and flexible forms of delivery; <BR> . Black niversities are increasingly invisible as educational institutions but far too visible as political trouble spots; at best they may play a "liberal arts college" role in the future but are more likely to be closed down.

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