Higher Education: Contribution for the NPC’s National Development Plan

Higher Education: Contribution for the NPC’s National Development Plan
Badsha N & Cloete N

The proposals which are offered in this development plan for a South African higher education
system fit to meet the knowledge and high‐level human resource needs for 2030 and beyond are premised on the following:

  1. Higher education is key to delivering the knowledge requirements for development. Research has pointed to a strong association between higher education participation rates and levels of development, and that high levels of education are essential to the design and production of new technologies for a country’s innovative capacity and for the development of society more broadly. Further, the ability of developing countries to absorb, use and modify existing technology will drive more rapid transition to higher levels of development and standards of living. (Taylor, 2011 NPC report)
  2. Universities play three main functions in modern society. Firstly, they are responsible for the education and training of professionals and other high level human resources for the wide range of employment needs of the public and private sectors of the economy. The second function of higher education is to produce new knowledge and find new applications for existing knowledge. In addition to fundamental research, in a country such as South Africa, this knowledge task is about innovation and application, local and global, and about knowledge that equips people for a society in constant social change.
  3. Thirdly, higher education provides opportunities for social mobility and simultaneously strengthens equity, social justice and democracy. In the globalizing knowledge society, higher education becomes increasingly important. Taken as a whole, the South African higher education system is relatively well functioning. It was placed by the Shanghai JiaoTong ARWU 2008 country rankings in the range 27–33 along with the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Ireland. For a developing country context, this is an exceptional rating. But, it can do better and is underperforming in a number of key areas, which are elaborated in this paper. In addition, there are a small number of institutions within the system that continue to show signs of instability and dysfunction.

 

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