Curriculum reform as a driver for change in higher education: the case of South Africa
A recent proposal by the Council for Higher Education (CHE) outlines a solution to the
persistently low and racially skewed completion rates in South African higher education.
This involves lengthening the curricula of all qualifications through the insertion of 120
credits of ‘foundational provision’. This article provides a critique of this strategy by
exploring its origins and placing South African efforts at improving student access and
success in the international context. It draws on the narratives of two academics, one a top
research professor and the other a foundation programme lecturer, employing the theoretical
lens of Pierre Bourdieu to examine higher education as a social space or field. This analysis
suggests that the power structure of higher education itself is likely to constrain the
effectiveness of the CHE’s proposal and ultimately fail to shift the low and racially skewed
completion rates that plague South African higher education
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