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Title: Widening student participation in higher education-challenges for policy and practice in South Africa : an action research study
Author: Keagile, L. M. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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The transformation of the higher education system in South Africa emanates from the Reconstruction and Development Programme of 1994 with its focus on redressing past racial inequities. The thesis seeks to explore the extent to which political, educational and social imperatives for increased student access are realised in the face of multiple structural forces at the institutional level. Whilst, in general, Higher Educational Institutions seem to be responding positively to the policy imperatives about widening student access, several factors - including the continued low retention and optimum throughput levels - indicate that the realities of a diverse and non-traditional student population are not being met. Indications are that for a country deeply divided by race, language and access to resources change needs go beyond increased student numbers and challenge the existing power relations underlying institutional as well as societal beliefs, values and practices. To understand these concerns, this thesis presents an action research study on policy implementation. The data is drawn primarily from a case study of the day-to-day experiences of students and lecturers in a distance education institution. It identifies critical areas that are to be addressed in order to maximise the potential benefits and minimise the drawbacks of widening participation. It is argued that, in the past, students’ and lecturers’ experiences have tended to be marginalised in academic research; however, their experiences provide a theoretical and, indeed, coherent understanding of the range of issues influencing change at the micro-level. The study further explores the potential of action research to inform the transformation process. The multiple higher education imperatives and the speed with which change is expected to happen, a continuous examination and monitoring of the process which action research might provide. The thesis argues that current, unexamined and taken-for-granted institutional practices are likely to marginalise student access as they tend to reinforce the status quo and thereby entrench existing power relations. In a society undergoing transformation, it becomes important to interrogate action at all levels, not only at the usual and obvious level of macro economic and political policy-making: individual behaviour within higher education institutions must also be counted.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available