‘Intelligence, not rhetoric’ needed to transform universities

More than 20 years on from the end of apartheid, the pressure for South Africa’s universities to shed their old identities and to embrace transformation is greater than ever, writes Chris Havergal for Times Higher Education.

Despite huge expansion and diversification of undergraduate recruitment, black students remain in the minority at some institutions, while black academics are outnumbered two to one across the sector as a whole, with many reporting feeling alienated by inequality and discrimination. This, unsurprisingly, has led to calls for radical action: for example, moratoriums on the hiring of white academics, or renaming all buildings commemorating apartheid-era figures after heroes of the fight against segregation.

There are few more vocal advocates of change than Adam Habib, vice-chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand. Speaking to Times Higher Education in Johannesburg, he said that transformation was “imperilled” and that universities needed to “move quickly” to address the concerns of students and academics. But Habib also said that the debate about the future of South African universities needed to be more “thoughtful” than it is at the moment, avoiding the “fracturing” of communities.
Full report on the Times Higher Education site