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Between a rock and a hard place: Understanding the balance between access and efficiency in South African higher education

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Corporate author/s:

University of Pretoria; Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC); and Department of Education (DHET)

Person/s author/s:

Akoojee, Mahomed Salim Ahmed; Nkomo, Mokubung; Motlhanke, Simon


journal article



The article argues for a case for a 'revisioning' of the education policy-implementation nexus in the South African higher education sector. It is proposed that the well-meaning idealism expressed in policy pronouncements is necessarily subject to a host of mediations, national and international, which have a mutative effect on the original intent. This understanding of policy, as 'policy pragmatism', is used to understand the discourse in current South African higher education, which although very 'efficiency' driven, retains considerable access elements. The article describes how the initial policy intention of 'unfettered' access transmutes to a pragmatic, cautious and guided right of entry. Thus, while initial policy propositions are contained in policy, they are not as overtly discernible as would be anticipated.

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