Research utilisation in policymaking : a case study of the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of the Western Cape

Kulati, Tembile (2005-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this thesis is to explore the relationship between research and policymaking in South African higher education, using the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Western Cape (UWC-EPU) -recently renamed the Centre for the Study of Higher Education - as a case study. The study begins by examining the various models that explain the nature of policymaking in Western democracies, as well as the main theoretical frameworks - namely the "two communities" theory and the enlightenment model of knowledge utilisation - that explain the relationship between the production of knowledge and its utilisation in policymaking. It is argued that, although most of these models were developed to analyse the policymaking process within the context of mature democracies, they nonetheless raise important issues for developing countries like South Africa. The study proceeds to provide an overview of the process of policy development in South Africa. It is suggested that a better way of understanding the evolution of higher education policy development in South Africa is to see it as having gone through four phases, each of which marks a significant turning point within higher education itself, as well as in the broader political context. The process of the policy development, and in particular the role of (higher education) research within it, is shown as one that was largely driven by political and ideological imperatives. The study then shifts to a discussion of the CSHE, commencing with an overview of its organisational history, and highlighting the main objectives of its research programme and the changes that occurred with regard to its research orientation. These are examined in relation to external factors - for example the shift from the development of policy frameworks to the focus on implementation - and in terms of the dynamics that were internal to the University of the Western Cape. This discussion also highlights the challenges that were faced by the EPUs and other progressive academics in the early phases of the policy development process, namely that of engaging in a 'reconstructive' agenda on the one hand, while undertaking intellectual/scientific work on the other hand. In the case of the CSHE, there was also the added challenge of contributing to the development of the nascent field of higher education studies. One of the key issues that emerge in the analysis of the interviews, which form the core source of data collection for this study, is the multifarious understanding of the way in which the research undertaken by the CSHE was to be utilised. The three notions of 'use' that are highlighted - which are also embedded in the objectives of the CSHE as set out in its constitution - are the following: • Utilisation as generation of ideas, and particularly as a contribution to the debates on social reconstruction • Utilisation as input into the policymaking process • Utilisation as contribution to scholarship The study shows that there is a mixed assessment of the extent to which the CSHE was able to address these competing - and sometimes contradictory - challenges. In the main, its efforts were hamstrung by a confluence of factors, ranging from its inability to recruit or attract experienced researchers, to the orientation of its research towards critique, something which was a feature of the scholarship emanating from the progressive academic community at the time.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie tesis is om die verhouding tussen navorsing en beleidsvorming binne die konteks van die Suid- Afrikaanse hoër onderwysomgewing te ondersoek. Met die oog hierop word die Education Policy Unit aan die Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland (UWC-EPU), onlangs herdoop tot die Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CHSE), deur middel van 'n gevallestudie beskryf. Die studie begin met 'n ondersoek na die verskillende modelle wat poog om die aard van beleidsvorming binne Westerse demokrasieë te verduidelik. Verder word die hoof teoretiese raamwerke, tewete die "two communities" teorie asook die "enlightenment model", wat die verhouding tussen die skep van kennis en die aanwending daarvan binne 'n beleidskonteks wil verduidelik, ook ondersoek. Hoewel die meeste modelle van hierdie aard ontwikkel is om die proses van beleidsvorming binne volwasse demokrasieë te analiseer, word aangevoer dat hulle desnieteenstaande belangrike kwessies na vore bring vir ontwikkelende lande soos Suid-Afrika. Die studie gaan verder deur 'n oorsig te gee oor die proses van beleidsontwikkeling in Suid- Afrika. Daar word gesuggereer dat 'n meer verantwoorde wyse om die evolusie van hoër onderwysbeleid in Suid-Afrika te verstaan, sou wees om erkenning te gee aan 'n vier-fase-benadering, waarvan elk 'n betekenisvolle rigtingverandering aangedui het, sowel as die invloed van die breër politieke konteks. Die proses van beleidsontwikkeling, en meer spesifiek die rol van (hoër onderwys) navorsing daarbinne, word aangetoon as synde hoofsaaklik gemotifeer deur politieke en ideologiese imperatiewe. Hierna verskuif die fokus van die studie na 'n bespreking van die CSHE deur te begin met 'n oorsig oor die geskiedenis van die sentrum. Die hoof doelwitte van die sentrum se navorsingsprogram asook die veranderinge wat onlangs plaasgevind ten opsigte van navorsingsoriëntasie, word bespreek. Hierdie aspekte word ondersoek aan die hand van eksterne faktore - byvoorbeeld die verskuiwing wat plaasgevind het vanaf die klem op ontwikkelingsraamwerke na 'n fokus op implimentering - en in terme van die dinamika wat eie is en was aan die Universiteit van Wes Kaapland. Die gesprek poog verder om lig te werp op die tipiese uitdagings waarmee Education Policy Units en navorsers in hierdie veld mee te doen gehad het in die beginjare van die beleidsontwikkelingsproses, naamlik om vanuit 'n rekonstruktiewe agenda te opereer en terselftertyd betrokke te wees met navorsing op 'n akademiese en wetenskaplike vlak. In die geval van die CSHE, het die verdere uitdaging om deurlopend bydraes tot die veld van hoër onderwysstudies te lewer, hoë eise aan die eenheid gestel. 'n Sleutelaspek wat na vore gekom het tydens die analise van die onderhoude (laasgenoemde vorm die sentrale bron van vir die data-versameling van die studie) is dat uiteenlopende interpretasies bestaan van hoe die navorsing soos deur die CSHE onderneem, benut behoort te word. Die drie perspektiewe op benutting ("use") wat uitgelig word, en wat In sentrale deel van die doelwitte van die CSHE uitmaak soos in die grondwet van die sentrum vervat, is die volgende: • Benutting as die skep van idees, en in die besonder as 'n bydrae tot debatte oor sosiale rekonstruksie • Benutting as inset tot die proses van beleidmaking • Benutting as bydrae tot navorsing Die studie toon aan dat die maniere waarop die CSHE in staat was om hierdie kompeterende, en soms teensprekende, uitdagings te hanteer, op uiteenlopende wyses geëvalueer was. In hoofsaak is die pogings van die sentrum aan bande gelê deur 'n sameloop van verskillende faktore wat gestrek het vanaf die probleem om ervare navorsers te lok en aan te stel tot met die probleem om sy navorsing aan te pas en te heroriënteer gegrond op kritiese stemme, dikwels die gevolg van die progressiewe akademiese gemeenskap van die tyd.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50437
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