n South African Journal of Higher Education - Theorising stakeholder participation within the higher education quality assurance system in South Africa




The South African Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) is currently involved with its second round of national programme reviews in the field of education. Such national reviews are designed to foster quality and equity within the broader Higher Education (HE) system as whole, through peer evaluation and public discourse processes and decision-making. One of the key features of this South African Higher Education Quality Assurance (HEQA) system has been its extended attempt to build into its processes as much stakeholder participation as possible. While admirable in their intent, the processes of stakeholder participation in this HEQA System have been rather limited and poorly conceptualised. To date, there has been no attempt to theorize and / or explain in any greater detail the role of stakeholders (and / or stakeholder participation) in the South African HEQA processes and systems. This article is one attempt to do just that. After examining the history and context of stakeholder participation in the South African Higher Education (HE) generally, the article proposes a possible framework for theorising stakeholder participation in South African HE and especially in the current HEQA system underway in the country. Although such a framework is yet to be tested through the realities of the messy processes of stakeholder involvement and participation using data from the various reviews themselves, its possible implications and advantages to higher education and the quality assurance processes thereof are explored in the article.


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