oa South African Journal of Higher Education - Academic mobility and the experiences of foreign staff at South African higher education institutions - research

Volume 33 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article analyses patterns of international academic mobility and the experiences of foreign staff at South African higher education institutions. Using the “pull and push factors” as a conceptual framework, it argues that the patterns of international academic staff mobility follow the pattern of international cross-border migrants. These are driven mainly by the pull factors which include quest for better opportunities in life including education. This study used both quantitative and qualitative methods to uncover the motivations and experiences of foreign academics in South Africa. The article uses three sources of data namely documentary analysis, statistical data from the Department of Education’s Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS), and data from questionnaires that were distributed to foreign academic staff at the three South African universities; namely, the University of Pretoria, University of South Africa, and University of the Witwatersrand. For the foreign academic staff working in South Africa, it was demonstrated that they have both positive and negative experiences. The negative experiences seem to be related to the major nation building project to overcome racism and xenophobia. The principles of non-racialism and, non-discrimination need to be promoted in order to build an inclusive and socially coherent society.

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