n South African Journal of Higher Education - Transformative change? Institutional formalities and institutional realities

Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Higher education institutions in post-apartheid South Africa are undergoing a transformation process on many levels. Not only is their very nature changing due to new institutional identities, but also their student populations, staff complements, policies, and procedures. This article juxtaposes the structural context (formalities) in which policies regarding employment equity are formulated at higher education institutions against the realities experienced by academic staff and institutional leaders. Drawing on interviews and document analysis, the article argues that though it is apparent that transformative guiding principles are present, these are not translated fully in practice, resulting in additive measures that do not constitute formal structural changes. The continuance of the equity and excellence dichotomy is considered as an illustrative point regarding the entrenched institutional culture that prevails. The author argues that institutions must be transformed completely, rather than augmenting existing formalities, in order for positive strides to be made toward employment equity.

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