The Guide to South African Higher Education | 18th Edition

Higher Education in Context

South Africa – A Regional Higher Education Internationalisation Hub in Transformation

By Dr Nico Jooste and Mr Cornelius Hagenmeier (University of the Free State) – African Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation (AfriC)

This article argues that the South African Higher Education system can be characterised as a regional Higher Education internationalisation hub. Presently, it is transforming from a hub for undergraduate education into that of postgraduate education, and more specifically, doctoral education. From the day the country attained its democracy until 2011, it gained increasing prominence for undergraduate university education. In 2012, the sector saw the beginning of the slow decline in undergraduate student numbers and the increase in post-graduate student numbers, with these numbers gaining significant growth over the years, particularly in doctoral student numbers. This also resulted in the steady growth of the overall number of international students in South Africa. A new method of data evaluation allowed the authors to dissect the international student data utilising various indicators, including the level of study.

A new method of data evaluation allowed the authors to dissect the international student data utilising various indicators, including the level of study.

It introduces internationalisation, regionalism and academic hubs and delves further into the ideas that support these concepts. Cohen (2001) posits an entropy-based explanation of the evolution of regional integration. In this theory, regional groupings occur systematically and come together for political, economic and cultural reasons.

The article further illustrates how South Africa developed as an education hub differently to Knight’s conceptualisation. The country has evolved, since 1994, into a regional hub responding to the needs of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and emerging as a driver for doctoral education in the SADC region. The vision for regional integration and educational cross-fertilisation in Higher Education in the SADC region is set out in the 1997 SADC Protocol on Education and Training, which acknowledges that ‘no SADC Member State can alone offer world quality education and training programmes at an affordable cost and on a sustainable basis' and is ‘mindful of the fact that programmes of human resource development, utilisation and increased productivity must have both national and regional dimensions' (Preamble to the SADC Protocol). It further outlines Article 8 of the Protocol, which states the consideration for cooperation in Higher Education, followed by South Africa's response to this Protocol which features—a detailed analysis of the SADC students studying in South Africa.

It delves into a detailed analysis of the SADC students studying in South Africa, other factors influencing student mobility, graduate numbers, South Africa and the SADC Higher Education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as well as taking a glance at the entire South African Higher Education space.

The international distance education students studying in at South African universities, is also explored.

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