n South African Journal of Higher Education - Democratisation and quality assurance in South African higher education

Volume 20, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



The article interprets a particular set of debates on whether quality assurance in South African higher education widens democracy or not. The interpretation explores the extent to which higher education quality assurance fulfils three conditions posited for democracy (inclusion, participation and enhancement), drawing in as points of reference goals for quality in higher education as articulated by the Higher Education Quality Committee (fitness of purpose, fitness for purpose, value for money and transformation) and principles for higher education set out in the Constitution and national higher education policy (academic freedom, institutional autonomy and public accountability). Its findings include, firstly, that if quality assurance in higher education is to serve the public good, then an inclusive, as well as a socially accountable, understanding of such concepts as 'fitness of purpose' and 'value for money' must be achieved and implemented. Secondly, quality assurance can be fully compatible with democratisation, as well as with the goals and purposes of autonomous academic institutions, where stakeholder involvement in the co-production of quality proceeds from the bottom up on the basis of inclusive understandings of intellectual freedom and accountability. Thirdly, quality assurance supports the development of critical citizens where it aligns with this traditional role of higher education through an empowering approach of its own. The work of achieving outcomes such as these three is of necessity ongoing and is moreover located within unresolved issues in higher education quality assurance generally.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error