Skip to main content

Contesting discourses in higher education curriculum restructuring in South Africa

Abstract

This article describes effortsfrom the mid-1990s in South Africa to reshapehigher education curricula, and the responsesof universities to a series of policyinitiatives concerned with higher educationcurriculum reform. Pressures of globalisationand the local challenges of reconstruction anddevelopment formed the context in which highereducation curriculum restructuring occurred.Two discourses, acredit-accumulation-and-transfer discourse anda disciplinary discourse, have shaped educationpolicy making in South Africa since themid-1990s, particularly in higher education.Policy initiatives to re-shape higher educationcurricula are discussed, as well as the ways inwhich science and humanities faculties atuniversities have responded to theseinitiatives. A typology of different curriculumforms is presented which suggests that in spiteof the influence of the credit exchangediscourse in policy documents, undergraduatecurricula continue to be presented on a largelydisciplinary basis.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Altbach, P.G. (1999).'The dilemma of change in Indian higher education’, Higher Education 26, 3–20.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Association of African Universities and the World Bank (1997).'Revitalizing universities in Africa: Strategy and guidelines: The partnership for capacity building in Africa’, South African Journal of Higher Education 12, 5–19.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bain, O.B., Zakharov, I.A. and Nosova, N.B. (1998).'From centrally mandated to locally demanded service: The Russian case’, Higher Education 35, 49–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Balan, J. (1993).'Governance and finance of national universities in Argentina: Current proposals for change’, Higher Education 25, 45–59.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Barrow, C.W. (1996).'The strategy of selective excellence: Redesigning higher education for global competition in a postindustrial society’, Higher Education 41, 447–469.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Brunner, J.J. (1993).'Chile's higher education: between market and state’, Higher Education 25, 35–43.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bernstein, B. (1975). Class, Codes and Control Volume 3: Towards a Theory of Educational Transmissions. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bernstein, B. (1996). Pedagogy Symbolic Control and Identity: Theory, Research, Critique. London: Taylor and Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Cheng, J.Y.S. (1995).'Higher education in Hong Kong-the approach to 1997 and the China factor’, Higher Education 30, 257–271.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Chitnis, S. (1993).'Gearing a colonial system of education to take independent India towards development’, Higher Education 26, 21–41.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Cloete, N. Fehnel, R., Maasen, P., Moja, T., Perold, H. and Gibbon, T. (eds.) (2002). Transformation in Higher Education: Global Pressures and Local Realities in South Africa. Cape Town: Juta.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Cummings, W.K. (1994).'From knowledge seeking to knowledge creation: The Japanese university's challenge’, Higher Education 27, 399–415.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Daniel, J. (1993).'The challenge of mass higher education’, Studies in Higher Education 18(2), 197–203.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Department of Education (1997). A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education: Education White Paper 3. Pretoria: Republic of South Africa Government.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Ensor, P. (2001).'Academic programme planning in South African higher education: three institutional case studies’, in Breier, M. (ed.), Curriculum Restructuring in Higher Education in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Pretoria: CSD, pp. 85–114.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Ensor, P. and Ogude, N. (2001). The Development of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and Its Implementation in Relation to Higher Education and Training. Report to the Council on Higher Education, Pretoria.

  17. Ensor, P. (in press).'The National Qualifications Framework and higher education in South Africa: Some epistemological issues’, Journal of Education and Work.

  18. Ferris, J.M. (1991).'Competition and regulation in higher education: A comparison of the Netherlands and the United States’, Higher Education 22, 93–108.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Ganderton, P.S. (1996).'Concepts of globalisation and their impact upon curriculum policymaking: Rhetoric and reality-a study of Australian reform’, International Journal of Educational Development 16(4), 393–405.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Gibbons, M., Limoges, C., Nowotny, H., Schwartsman, S., Scott, P. and Trow, M. (1994). The New Production of Knowledge: The Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary Societies. California: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Green, A. (1999).'Education and globalization in Europe and East Asia: Convergent and divergent trends’, Journal of Education Policy 14(1), 55–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Green, M.F. (1995).'Transforming British higher education: A view from across the Atlantic’, Higher Education 29, 225–239.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Govinden, D. (2000).'Special issue: Higher education, globalisation and the Third World state’, Perspectives in Education 18(3).

  24. Hughes, R. and Mwiriwia, K. (1990).'An essay on the implications of university expansion in Kenya’, Higher Education 19, 215–237.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Kent, R. (1993).'Higher education in Mexico: From unregulated expansion to evaluation’, Higher Education 25, 73–83.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Klein, L. and Schwartzman, S. (1993).'Higher education policies in Brazil: 1970–1990’, Higher Education 25, 21–34.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Knight, P.T. and Trowler, P.R. (2000).'Department-level cultures and the improvement of learning and teaching’, Studies in Higher Education 25(1), 69–83.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Kraak, A. (ed.) (2000). Changing Modes: New Knowledge Production and Its Implications for Higher Education in South Africa. Pretoria: HSRC.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Lucio, R. and Serrano, M. (1993).'The state and higher education in Columbia’, Higher Education 25, 61–72.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Mahony, D. (1990).'The demise of the university in a nation of universities: Effects of current changes in higher education in Australia’, Higher Education 19, 455–472.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Marshall, N. (1990).'End of an era: The collapse of the “buffer” approach to the governance of Australian tertiary education’, Higher Education 19, 147–167.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Mason, T.C., Arnove, R.F. and Sutton, M. (2001).'Credits, curriculum, and control in higher education: Cross-national perspectives’, Higher Education 42, 107–137.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Mok, K.H. (1999).'Education and the market place in Hong Kong and mainland China’, Higher Education 37, 133–158.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Mok, K.H. and Wat, K.L. (1998).'Merging of the public and private boundary: Education and the market place in China’, International Journal of Educational Development 18, 255–267.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Moore, R. (2002).'Between covenant and contract: Negotiating academic pedagogic identities’, Presented at the Second International Basil Bernstein Symposium: Knowledges, Pedagogy and Society, Cape Town.

  36. Morris, P., McClelland, J.A.G. and Ming, Y.Y. (1994).'Higher education in Hong Kong: The context of and rationale for rapid expansion’, Higher Education 27, 125–140.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Muller, J. (2000). Reclaiming Knowledge. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

    Google Scholar 

  38. National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) (1996). National Commission on Higher Education Report: A Framework for Transformation. Pretoria: NCHE.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Peters, M. (1992).'Performance and accountability in “post-industrial society”: The crisis of the British universities’, Studies in Higher Education 17(2) 123–139.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Peters, M. and Roberts, P. (2000).'Universities, futurology and globalisation’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 21(2), 125–139.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Ryu, M. (1998).'A muted voice in academe: The Korean version of entrepreneurial scholarship’, Higher Education 35, 9–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Schwartzman, S. (1993).'Policies for higher education in Latin America: The context’, Higher Education 25, 9–20.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Scott, P. (1984). The Crisis of the University. London: Croom Helm.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Scott, P. (1995). The Meanings of Mass Higher Education. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Seddon, T. (1997).'Markets and the English: Rethinking educational restructuring as institutional design’, British Journal of Sociology of Education 18(2), 165–185.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Symes, C. (1996).'Selling futures: A new image for Australian universities?’, Studies in Higher Education 21(2), 133–147.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Tasker, M.E. and Packham, D.E. (1990).'Freedom, funding and the future of the universities’, Studies in Higher Education 15(2), 181–195.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Trowler, P. (1996).'Angels in marble? Accrediting prior experiential learning in higher education’, Studies in Higher Education 21(1), 17–30.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Trowler, P. (1997).'Beyond the Robbins trap: Reconceptualising academic responses to change in higher education (or ...Quiet flows the Don?)’, Studies in Higher Education 22(3), 301–318.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Trowler, P.R. (1998). Academics Responding to Change: New Higher Education Frameworks and Academic Cultures. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Twombly, S.B. (1997).'Curricular reform and the changing social role of public higher education in Costa Rica’, Higher Education 33, 1–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Van den Bor, W. and Shutte, J.C.M. (1991).'Higher education in the Third World: Status symbol or instrument for development?’, Higher Education 22, 1–15.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Yang, R. (2000).'Tensions between the global and the local: A comparative illustration of the reorganisation of China's higher education in the 1950s and 1990s’, Higher Education 39, 319–337.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ensor, P. Contesting discourses in higher education curriculum restructuring in South Africa. Higher Education 48, 339–359 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:HIGH.0000035544.96309.f1

Download citation

  • comparative education
  • credit systems
  • educational policy
  • higher education curriculum restructuring
  • interdisciplinarity
  • national qualifications frameworks