n South African Journal of Higher Education - The professoriate in South Africa : potentially risking status inflation

Volume 22, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Being appointed or promoted to the position of 'professor' resonates with notions of a relatively high academic standing in the realms of higher education. Or does it? This article poses the question: Is it not true that some South African universities suffer from professorial status inflation on the basis that professorial positions have been, and are being filled by individuals who do not merit the minimum required status? This question is addressed from three viewpoints: firstly, from a view on what the title 'professor' denotes in an international context, secondly, from the assumption that teaching excellence on its own might not be an appropriate or sufficient criterion to promote someone to a professorial position - particularly if an Anglo-European view of the professoriate is maintained - and thirdly, from a proposition that professorial positions have been filled at South African universities on bases other than scholarly merit. The article draws on data generated from a sample of current professors' views on the professorial status at universities in South Africa and concludes that universities in this country might risk losing international academic status and recognition if they are insensitive to scholarly criteria and guidelines when considering staff for promotion or appointment to the academic status of 'professor'.

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