University politics under the impact of societal transformation and global processes : South Africa and the case of Stellenbosch University, 1990-2010

Baumert, Stefanie Christine (2014-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Der Fakultät für Sozialwissenschaften und Philosophie der Universität Leipzig

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Worldwide, national higher education systems and universities are repeatedly confronted with global higher education trends and the challenge to handle them in specific national and institutional contexts. This observation relates to the broader question how processes of globalization affect university politics. The work at hand provides insights into how South Africa and the South African Stellenbosch University (SU) were facing recent processes of globalization in a situation of deep societal transformation after the end of apartheid. The dissertation examines how university politics in South Africa were negotiated after 1990. It investigates which local and global actors were involved and with what kind of interests they influenced the process. For SU, it is analysed how the different levels making up the University understood current international trends in higher education and how this understanding brought about institutional change leading to inter- and transnationalization. The thesis applies a qualitative multi-method approach drawing on document analysis and interviews. The research is grounded on major research reports and national policy documents on higher education, institutional documents of SU (e.g. the Senate and Council documentation, brochures and speeches) as well as on a total of 52 semi-structured interviews that were conducted with current and former representatives of SU as well as of the national South African higher education system between 2010 and 2012. Theoretically, the study draws on debates from higher education research and transnational history concerning the internationalization and transnationalization of higher education. It follows an analytical perspective for exploring and understanding higher education developments that goes beyond the conventional state-centric nation-state model used to analysing social processes and interactions. Therefore, the dissertation traces the impact of the different spatial references of the local and the national level for university politics and looks at how the local relates to the national and both of them to the regional and the global. By approaching the topic historically, the study challenges the often referred to hypotheses of academic isolationism and SU’s increasing insularity due to the international academic boycott against South Africa during the apartheid era. It accentuates that prior to 1990 there were many international activities going on at SU. Furthermore, the findings show that SU has embarked comparatively early on a purposeful and strategic process of internationalization, which occurred prior to its national opening in the form of transformation and redress. Only by the turn of the century, processes of internationalization were paralleled by an open transformation attempt. This was quite in contrast to the post-1990 dealing with higher education on the national South African level and by many other South African universities. The study demonstrates that in approaching the challenges of societal transformation and global processes, SU’s management initially favoured the “efficiency” discourse over the “redress” discourse in order to pave the way for becoming an internationally esteemed research university.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Nasionale hoëronderwysstelsels en universiteite word wêreldwyd voortdurend gekonfronteer met globale hoëronderwystendense en die uitdaging om in spesifieke nasionale en institusionele kontekste daarop te reageer. Hierdie waarneming hou verband met die meer omvattende vraag hoe globaliseringsprosesse universiteitspolitiek beïnvloed. Hierdie studie gee insig in hoe Suid-Afrika op nasionale vlak en die Universiteit Stellenbosch (US) in Suid- Afrika die resente globaliseringsprosesse te midde van ’n situasie van ingrypende maatskaplike transformasie ná die einde van apartheid hanteer het. Die tesis fokus op die universiteitspolitiek in Suid-Afrika na 1990. Die plaaslike en globale rolspelers wat betrokke was en die vraag na die soort belange wat die proses beïnvloed het, word ondersoek In die spesifieke geval van die US word ontleed hoe die huidige internasionale tendense in hoër onderwys op verskillende vlakke binne die Universiteit verstaan word en hoe hierdie begrip daarvan institusionele veranderinge teweeg gebring het wat tot inter- en transnasionalisering aanleiding gegee het. In die tesis word ’n kwalitatiewe veelmetodebenadering toegepas wat gebruik maak van dokumentontleding en onderhoude. Die navorsing is gegrond op belangrike navorsingsverslae en nasionale beleidsdokumente oor hoër onderwys, institusionele dokumente van die US (bv. Senaats- en Raadsdokumente, brosjures en toesprake) sowel as op ’n totaal van 52 semigestruktureerde onderhoude wat tussen 2010 en 2012 gevoer is met huidige en voormalige personeellede van die US en met belangrike rolspelers in die nasionale Suid-Afrikaanse hoëronderwysstelsel. Op teoretiese vlak steun die studie op debatte in hoëronderwysnavorsing en die geskiedenis van die internasionalisering en transnasionalisering van hoër onderwys. Die studie maak gebruik van ’n analitiese perspektief om hoëronderwysontwikkelings te ondersoek en te deurgrond. Dit strek verder as die konvensionele staatsentriese model wat gebruik word om maatskaplike prosesse en interaksies te ontleed. Die effek van die verskillende ruimtelike verwysings na die plaaslike en nasionale vlakke op universiteitspolitiek word ondersoek. Daar word gekyk na die verband tussen die plaaslike aspekte en nasionale aspekte, en hoe beide hierdie aspekte verband hou met regionale en globale aspekte. Aangesien die onderwerp histories benader word, word die algemeen aanvaarde hipoteses ten opsigte van die akademiese isolasie in die algemeen en spesifiek die US se toenemende isolasie weens die internasionale akademiese boikot teen Suid-Afrika gedurende die apartheidsera, uitgedaag. Dit beklemtoon dat daar in die tydperk voor 1990 verskeie internasionaliseringsaktiwiteite by die US was. In vergelyking met ander instellings het die US reeds vroeg ’n doelgerigte en strategiese proses van internasionalisering aangepak. Dit het gebeur voor die tydperk waartydens die nasionale oopstelling plaasgevind het wat onder meer die vorm aangeneem het van transformasie en regstelling. Eers tydens die draai van die eeu aan die einde van die negentigerjare het prosesse van internasionalisering parallel geloop met ’n oop transformasiepoging. Dit was in redelike kontras met die tendense in hoër onderwys na 1990 op nasionale vlak in Suid-Afrika, en met die tendense by baie ander Suid- Afrikaanse universiteite. In die studie word aangetoon dat die US se bestuur in hul benadering tot die uitdagings van maatskaplike transformasie en globale prosesse aanvanklik die “doeltreffendheidsdiskoers” bo die "regstellingsdiskoers” verkies het om die weg voor te berei om ’n internasionaal erkende navorsingsuniversiteit te word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95959
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