Access and quality in South African higher education: the twin challenges of transformation
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Higher education transformation in South Africa requires a synergy of creative strategies to engage issues of redress. Access to higher education remains one mechanism for achieving this in South African higher education. While there is clearly a need to enable access by improving student success (access with success), as opposed to simply ensuring their participation (access as participation), the adequacy of these initiatives needs to be evaluated in the context of institutional transformation. By introducing a quality assurance framework, institutions can ensure that access initiatives are institutionalised. Conceptions of access, however,
need to be situated within appropriate definitions of quality. This would enable institutions to track the responsiveness of measures to achieve national transformational objectives. It is argued that current Academic Development (AD) initiatives as a means of achieving 'access with success' can only deal marginally with the transformation agenda in South Africa. It is proposed that a comprehensive quality assurance framework with embedded commitment to access is likely to respond appropriately to national development prerogatives of higher education access.