n South African Journal of Higher Education - Who are we teaching? A first-year class at the University of the North

Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article presents some of the perceptions, feelings, thoughts and values of students in a first-year class at the University of the North (UNIN). The research was motivated by the experience of hearing many generalisations and opinions expressed about students which seemed to be based on anecdote and what staff felt students ought to be, rather than on empirical evidence based on enquiry into what students actually did experience, think and feel. Many educators are working according to unexamined assumptions which are often not arranted. It seems that staff at HBU's (historically black universities) routinely over-estimate the skills and under-estimate the intelligence of students. The access that staff have to the world of students is limited, but this limitation may be self-imposed. This might be the case at many campuses, but, for reasons which I explain in my article, it is particularly striking at UNIN, and it may be a situation which all tertiary institutions will soon be facing.

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