South African higher education reform: what comes after post-colonialism?
Since the fall of the apartheid regime South African higher education has begun to undergo a process of fundamental transformation. First-world universities, which were beneficiaries (however unwilling) of past racial inequalities, have had to adapt to the urgent needs of what is a post-colonial and, for the majority of its citizens, a third-world society. South Africa, therefore, provides a particularly sharp example of the encounter between a higher education system established within the European tradition, in terms of both its institutional and its academic culture, and a society in the process of radical change. This encounter has been mediated through the work of the National Commission on Higher Education which attempted to produce a compromise that would enable South African higher education to be both (in terms of academic values and scientific standards) and also (in terms of its contribution to building the capacities of all the people of South Africa). The tension between the university's claims to represent universal knowledge and the counter-claims that knowledge traditions should be accorded greater respect, therefore, is much sharper than in Europe.
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