ISBN 9781928502210
Pages 180
Dimensions 254 x 178mm
Published 2021
Publisher African Minds Publishers, South Africa
Format Paperback

Understanding Higher Education

Alternative Perspectives

by Chrissie Bowie, Sioux McKenna

Drawing on the South African case, this book looks at shifts in higher education around the world in the last two decades. In South Africa, calls for transformation have been heard in the university since the last days of apartheid. Similar claims for quality higher education to be made available to all have been made across the African continent. In spite of this, inequalities remain and many would argue that these have been exacerbated during the Covid pandemic. 

Understanding Higher Education responds to these calls by arguing for a social account of teaching and learning by contesting dominant understandings of students as ‘decontextualised learners’ premised on the idea that the university is a meritocracy. 

This book tackles the issue of teaching and learning by looking both within and beyond the classroom. It looks at how higher education policies emerged from the notion of the knowledge economy in the newly democratic South Africa, and how national qualification frameworks and other processes brought the country more closely into conversation with the global order. The effects of this on staffing and curriculum structures are considered alongside a proposition for alternative ways of understanding the role of higher education in society.

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“A treasure for graduate students and scholars who seek to understand higher education in ways that support social justice."

Prof. Leesa Wheelahan, University of Toronto, Canada

“This book turns on its head the idea that universities are a meritocracy.”

Dr Simpiwe Sobuwa, Durban University of Technology, South Africa

“An exceptionally rich analysis of neoliberalism in higher education.”

Prof. Fikret Adaman, Bogaziçi University, Turkey

About the Author

Sioux McKenna

Sioux McKenna is the director of Postgraduate Studies at Rhodes University where she also coordinates the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning PhD programme. She researches a variety of issues related to higher education but has a particular interest in who it is that gets access to the powerful knowledge of the academy. She has supervised a number of postgraduate studies focused on social justice in the university.

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