Varsities Still Suffer From Their White Past

Nov 18, 2004 05:15 PM EST

Government had failed to reverse the damage of apartheid higher education and secure a position for African higher education among the best institutions in the world, Pretoria University's dean of education, Prof Jonathan Jansen, said yesterday.

Poor leadership and a failure to assess the sector meant universities "in the true sense of the word" could cease to exist in SA within 30 years.

SA's new universities, many the products of mergers, were losing their identities as centres of intellectual inquiry, he said, delivering the Institute for Race Relations' Hoernle memorial lecture in Johannesburg.

"The greatest challenge facing the post-apartheid university is that second-generation South Africans fail to find a compelling moral purpose in higher education beyond crass materialism and individual self-enrichment."

Jansen said transformation had misfired because of the pretence that "all institutions could be the same thing ".

He said the "most realistic" solution would be to create a twotier system. A small group of high-powered postgraduate research institutions would operate with a group of high-quality undergraduate universities.

Business Day (Johannesburg)