Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Student struggles at a struggling institution: the case of University of Limpopo, South Africa  


Bjarke Oxlund (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

Post-apartheid university reforms in South Africa have not delivered according to the promises made, and at the former Black Universities students and staff are particularly frustrated and upset. This paper aims to analyse the effect of the reforms from the vantage point of students.

Paper long abstract:

The post-apartheid tertiary sector has seen a difficult transition from the racially segregated system under the former regime to an open and free-market, competitive system since 1994. The new system brought with it new and less favourable funding regimes and increased competition over students, and in this setup the former black universities have been particularly prone to funding shortages and decreasing levels of students, since black students (and the best qualified black academics) have now been allowed entrance into the well-funded, former white universities in the urban metropoles of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria.

After the turn of the Millennium the ANC led government has pushed through merger reforms in an attempt to turn the tertiary education sector around and make universities more responsive to public service needs. The policy frameworks are very ambitious, but they seem to be somehow out of tune with the reality on the ground. Given the funding shortages, University of Limpopo keeps increasing the tuition fees and costs related to on-campus accommodation, which means that students from poor backgrounds find themselves in jeopardy during the annual registration in January, while students of the black upper or middle-class will often have drifted to former white institutions. This is one of the reasons why the students at University of Limpopo engage in riots and demonstrations styled with reference to the former struggle against the apartheid regime .

Panel W034
Anthropologies of university reform: restructuring of higher education - anthropological perspectives