n South African Journal of Higher Education - Institutional self-representation at South African higher education institutions

Volume 21, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article summarises our findings from the investigation of the research question : 'What are the variations in self-representations at universities and technikons, with particular respect to boundary constructions, perceptions of the institution's past, and visions of possible futures?'

The analysis in this article is based on transcripts and summaries of 19 interviews. The interviewees from the technikons describe the ways in which the technikons are unique, often drawing comparisons with universities. The relevance or application aspect of research and the close links to the workplace are described as characteristics of technikons. The discourses of the HWT interviewees exhibited a broader view on this than the discourses of the HBT interviewees, talking about 'social relevance' being more than 'links to industry and commerce'.
Discursively, the technikon interviewees painted a picture of the technikons as lacking in a number of respects in comparison to universities. The university interviewees did not engage in descriptions of the universities' practices, but described the technikons in terms of their particularities and differences from the universities. Together, these findings show that most of the interviewees communicate a view of technikons as the 'other' of South African higher education, indicating that the concept of 'university' has taken on universality in this context.

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