The Synergy between the SAAIR Conference Events and South African Higher Education Policy Initiatives during 1994-2015
CITATION: Botha, J. 2016. The Synergy between the SAAIR Conference Events and South African Higher Education Policy Initiatives during 1994-2015, in J. Botha & N.J. Muller (eds.). Institutional Research in South African Higher Education: Intersecting Contexts and Practices. Stellenboach: SUN PRESS. 43-56. doi:10.18820/9781928357186/03.
The original publication is available from AFRICAN SUN MeDIA, Stellenbosch: South Africa.
Chapters in Books
Introduction: The focus areas of Institutional Research (IR) practitioners in South Africa and an analysis of the synergy between these focus areas and the major higher education policy developments during the first two decades of the democratic dispensation in South Africa are the concerns of this chapter. To what extent did these policy developments determine the priorities of IR practitioners, or, to what extent did the results of the work of IR practitioners provide the evidence on which these policies were based? Or, is this a complex, dynamic relationship and that plays out in both directions at different times and in different contexts? Despite various voices arguing for multiple new roles for IR, for example, Swing (2009), and Calderon and Webber (2015), Saupe’s (1981) and Dressel’s (1981) classic definition that IR is conducted to support institutional management, and by implication, to provide evidence on which (policy) decisions can be based, remains a valid expression of what institutional leaders and policy makers expect from IR. On the other hand, the extent to which higher education policy makers actually base their decisions on the information provided by IR practitioners, is not easy to demonstrate definitively with empirical evidence. Therefore no assertions will be made in this chapter regarding any possible causal link between higher education policy developments and the work of IR practitioners, and consequently the softer term “synergy” was chosen to characterise the aim of the study.