n South African Journal of Higher Education - Contradictions in the situational logic of the university : implications for student success

Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Nearly 20 years into the new democracy, student success at South African universities continues to be differentiated along racial lines. The tendency has been to define the problem in terms of student deficit. This article suggests that this is a limited view of a complex problem. The study reported on investigated the case of a South African university's Department of Chemical Engineering and its historical struggle with the success of black students. The study explored students' progression through a design course and the associated pedagogical realities. Using a social realist approach, the study showed that the higher education environment is a complex of necessary contradictions which create a situational logic for agents. In the process of navigating the inconsistencies of a system in which academic development and quality assurance work against each other, it seems that black students get caught in the middle, with deleterious consequences for the country's transformative agenda.

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