Present-day dilemmas and challenges of the South African tertiary system
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The Education White Paper 3 on Higher Education aimed to transform the higher education system. Change within tertiary education included adjusting the size and shape of institutions, the meaning of autonomy and accountability, the nature of higher education, the character of student demographic distribution, management and governance, roles of student politics, models of delivery, the notion of higher education in terms of the relationship between free trade and public good, programme changes and the nature of the academic workplace. At this stage, transformation in higher education is leaping outwards to fulfil the criteria set by international competitiveness and related efficiency criteria that can be attributed to globalisation pressures and to deeper factors inherent in the nature of higher education, especially in terms of its resistance to change and modernization. In this regard, the tertiary higher education system in South Africa is faced with many multi-dimensional challenges that need to be addressed in this article. This includes stating whether Grade 12 results as the outcome of this exit point at school level are, internationally speaking, a reasonable predictor of first-year academic success at university. In South Africa, there is no benchmarking of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination; therefore, first-year students have difficulty in adapting to the university environment as they find themselves devoid of indispensable bases for the pursuit of their studies and the weakness of the level of education given at school level in a large number of instances. Furthermore, five universities were placed under administration in the 2011-2012 period because of appallingly poor levels of management, which adds extra layers of suspicion to the notion of the impact of higher education in South Africa. Many other challenges are facing the South African tertiary education system, which will be analysed and recommendations arrived at that will attempt to contribute to an enhancement of tertiary education in South Africa.
- Faculty of Health Sciences