Transformation in Higher Education is an international, transdisciplinary journal that seeks original contributions that reflect upon and theorise transformation in higher education in all its different nuances. It aims to disseminate high impact, evidence based research across disciplines in higher education that could ultimately support high level learning, teaching and research. Therefore, transdisciplinary engagements that address contemporary issues in higher education contexts will receive preference. Conceptual-philosophical and empirical works addressing matters that could lead to the intellectual advancement in higher education as discipline and context are welcomed. This journal and its publications are of interest to academics and a wide range of professionals associated with Higher Education institutions, both nationally and internationally.

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The Library contains vol. 1(2016) to current

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  • Challenges of transforming curricula: Reflections by an interdisciplinary Community of Practice

    Gerda Dullaart; Ydalene Coetsee; Jean L. Farmer; Jennifer Jennifer; Jerome Joorst; Ruenda Loots; Marianne McKay; Simbongile Ntwasa (AOSIS, 2023-12-01)
    Institutional transformation and inclusion have slowly become more prominent in the strategies of historically white institutions in South Africa. Despite these efforts, progress towards these goals has been limited. In this article, we reflect on our conversations about transforming our curricula and teaching practices as an interdisciplinary Community of Practice. Our conversations grappled with the lack of curricular transformation at Stellenbosch University, despite its aspirational transformation plan. We argue that difficult interdisciplinary conversations are key to interrupting our teaching practices and are crucial in the decolonising process. These conversations must be ongoing and enduring, because through sharing our stories we support agents of curriculum transformation in our different contexts. Our conceptual conversations explored various theories about decoloniality, and here we employ ubuntu pedagogy, as well as the concepts of redistribution, recognition and representation from social justice theory. We harness the collaborative energy of an interdisciplinary Community of Practice, with its associated storytelling, reading, writing and reflecting to harness the diversity of personal and disciplinary perspectives. We include some reflective vignettes to illustrate our process. Contribution: The relevance of this study, beyond our contexts, arises from a gap in the decolonising process, from its theory to its practice. We argue that even a good institutional transformation plan will not guarantee the decoloniality of curricula. More is needed. Systemic change is needed, and difficult interdisciplinary conversations are part of this process. There must be recognition and representation of marginalised voices and specific context-related redistribution of curricula, so that transformation plans and theories can take effect.
  • Acknowledgement to reviewers

    Editorial Office (AOSIS, 2023-11-01)
    No abstract available.
  • The interplay between strategic drivers and neoliberalism in South African higher education

    Dirk Rossouw; Geoffrey A. Goldman (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    The VUCA world which refers to ‘volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity’ forces higher education institutions (HEIs) to be aware and understand strategic drivers. Further knowledge of the interplay between strategic drivers, neoliberalism, and ‘public good’ can assist HEIs not to seize the notion of furthering the neoliberal agenda at all cost, but to strive for a more balanced outcome. This article attempts to explore how strategic drivers can act as a ‘reality check’ to ensure that HEIs serve the interests of the communities and that of society in general, and that higher education does not become a mechanism to serve the neoliberal agenda above all else. This is a conceptual article in which a reflective, dialectical approach was employed, extrapolating on a PhD study on strategic drivers for South African HEIs. Strategic drivers are confirmed as key forces the South African HEIs should reckon with and manage in pursuing the socio-economic agenda within the growing popularity of neoliberalism. Contribution: This study alerts South African HEIs and institutions internationally on using strategic drivers to transform in serving the socio-economic agenda and the ‘public good’ in the midst of the neoliberal.
  • Counselling support for postgraduate open and distance e-learning students in South Africa: A case study

    Kamleshie Mohangi; Hermina Olivier (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    Despite the support structures offered at Open distance e-learning (ODeL) higher education institutions, slow completion and attrition attest to postgraduate students’ challenging study experiences. This qualitative and interpretivist case study examines postgraduate students’ experiences of counselling support at an ODeL institution in South Africa with the research question: What are postgraduate student experiences of counselling services, and how may they inform optimal practice at an ODeL institution? A questionnaire and semi-structured telephone interviews were completed by a total purposive sample of fifteen masters, doctoral and PhD students from one department at the institution. Data was analysed thematically. Findings indicate that although many students were unaware of the institution’s student support services, they would seek counselling. However, counselling decisions were impacted by counsellor-student gender, age, and cultural factors. Open distance e-learning counselling services require more awareness, accessibility, and robust online and digital media approaches. Future research could focus on more comprehensive postgraduate student experiences throughout the institution’s departments. Contribution: Open distance e-learning postgraduate students face challenges that lead to slow progress and high attrition. Counselling support is crucial to help students overcome these barriers and complete their studies. This study highlights mature students’ obstacles when accessing counselling services to address their mental health and academic concerns. The research underscores the impact of age, gender, and culture on access to counselling services. Ultimately, the study emphasises the need for timely and improved counselling services to support postgraduate students in advancing their studies.
  • Information communication technology integration via Bloom’s taxonomy in accountancy curriculum

    Olive Stumke (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    Accountants should stay relevant to the business world, making Information Communication Technology (ICT) competencies essential, as highlighted by professional bodies and employers. For this reason, how and when ICT competencies can be integrated into the accountancy curriculum following the guidelines of Bloom’s taxonomy was investigated. ICT competency integration into the accountancy curriculum remains a challenge at South African universities, further highlighted by online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research followed a qualitative approach. Data collection was done through a literature review of Bloom’s taxonomy, ICT requirements from the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) and employers, responses from a self-developed questionnaire from lecturers of two participating universities focusing on the perceived inclusion of ICT competencies and when these competencies should be taught in the accountancy curriculum. The participants agreed with the inclusion of MS Excel and MS Word with a discrepancy of when. Contribution: Based on the sample selected, the results highlighted that how and when ICT competencies could be integrated is not in line with Bloom’s taxonomy approach. It is recommended that universities integrate ICT competencies for MS Excel and MS Word in the accountancy curriculum through the assignments already available in a structured and scaffolded approach. This research contributes to the body of knowledge of how and when ICT competencies can be integrated into the accountancy curriculum. Higher education must keep up with the fast-changing business environment and aim to transform their learning accordingly through applying Bloom’s taxonomy in a holistic view when integrating ICT competencies within the accountancy curriculum.
  • Gender regimes and gender relations in higher education: The case of a civil engineering course

    Noshmee D. Baguant; Hyleen Mariaye; Thabo Msibi (AOSIS, 2023-09-01)
    This study documents how hegemonic masculinity is experienced through the lens of five female students registered in an engineering course using a single instrumental case study research contextualised in a national university in Mauritius. It analyses how these relations and interactions are interpreted and integrated in the ways the participants are choosing to ‘do gender’ reflecting critically on what this reveals about acceptance of and resistance to these gendered cultural norms by aspiring women engineers. Interpreted from the lens of gender regimes (Connell 2002), the findings indicate how male students legitimised their power by foregrounding the physical inadequacy of their female classmates, the cultural barriers associated with the rough vocabulary of builders which are certain to cause discomfort to female engineers, and the physically strenuous working environments, all of which are designed to assert a male reading of what engineering work is about. What is, however, also evident is the acceptance of these views by some female participants who feel compelled, to accept ‘male help’ designed to enforce some form of control and superiority. ‘Beating the boys’ on their own preferred terrain of abstract thinking appears to be a way for some participants to level the field despite against attempts to represent engineering knowledge as ‘male’, and only allowing privileged female students to access such understandings is a common gatekeeping exercise endorsed by male classmates. Contribution: This study shows the deep transformations that need to be brought about in higher education settings, particularly in small island contexts where the dominant culture is often silently resistant to progressive equality agenda.
  • Academic, keyword, and plain English subtitles for natural sciences students: Intralingual views

    Elmarie Kruger-Marais; Helena Kruger-Roux (AOSIS, 2023-08-01)
    The study is an analysis of the reaction of students in a faculty of natural and agricultural sciences (NAS) to subtitles and also includes an investigation of their responses thereto. Reception of and responses to academic English (close to verbatim transcription), plain English, and keyword English subtitles were explored by showing participants subtitled videos related to the content of their module. Participants were then asked to complete demographic and affective questionnaires, and participated in focus group interviews to investigate their reception of the various subtitles. The results show that participants responded particularly well to plain English subtitles. The focus group interviews indicated that they found all three sets of subtitles useful for note-taking purposes, adjusting the speed at which they accessed and processed information by pausing the videos, highlighting important information in the study materials, and being able to engage aurally and visually with the materials. From a higher education perspective, this emphasises students’ readiness for subtitles as an academic mediation tool. Contribution: This article aims to fill existing gaps in the fulfilment of higher education institutions’ language policies, which have been exposed by the thrust for multilingualism in higher education. Research into academic subtitling as an academic mediation tool can be used to bridge this gap, thereby supporting innovative research in higher education.
  • In(ex)clusion of transgender students in South African higher education institutions

    Johannes Buthelezi; Anthony Brown (AOSIS, 2023-08-01)
    This study aimed to critically assess the current state of transgender student inclusion in South African universities, highlighting the challenges, progress and potential areas for improvements that exist. This article highlights the complexities of legal identity, self-determined identity and the recognition of transgender identity in South Africa. Using photovoice and drawings as data collection tools, this study explored the lived realities of seven transgender university participants in a society that upholds heteronormative values and practices. Purposive and snowball sampling approaches allowed us to identify participants for the study among a population that would otherwise be difficult to reach. Contribution: The findings of this study are discussed under themes that are evocative of the students’ experiences of exclusion practices in their institutions of learning. We argue that South African universities should focus not only on increasing diversity but also on creating inclusive environments that support the success and well-being of all student populations, in this case, transgender students.
  • Addressing the underside of student unrest in South African universities using collegial leadership as approach

    Bunmi I. Omodan (AOSIS, 2023-07-01)
    Universities in South Africa are confronted with student unrest, which has hindered the effective university education process. They have faced various shortages of academic activities and teaching and learning because of protests and subsequent management responses that culminated in the closures of universities at most times. Student unrest has made it difficult to actualise the set predetermined goals and objectives of the university. These challenges have severally been linked to problems with tuition fees, financial support for students, adequate and conducive hostel accommodation, student socio-economic background and university management styles. Among the management styles, according to the literature and observation, is the decision-making process where the issues concerning students are decided upon. This study explores the potential of the collegial leadership approach to enhance the university decision-making process towards alleviating student unrest in universities. This study is located within a transformative paradigm to transform social unrest in the university system. Conceptual analysis was employed to make sense of the adopted approach as a veritable tool for managing the power differential between the students and the university management. The study found that collaboration and teamwork, consensus building and organisational relationships are the dimensions of managing student unrest in universities. The recommendation is that collaborative management style, teamwork, consensus building and organisational relationships are encouraged in the university management process. Contribution: This article seeks to contribute to the higher education management system by providing a collegial leadership model. As an integral part of the university system, this model addresses student unrest and improves transformative prospects for the institution. By exploring new ways of managing internal conflict resolution, change is fostered, and improved conditions are cultivated. In this way, it directly responds to the journal’s focus on the transformation of higher education, making it an essential read for scholars and practitioners specialising in this field.
  • Optometry students’ experience of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Davina Govender; Tarryn Pillay; Nandipha Maci; Nokukhanya Vilakazi; Snenkosi Mthethwa; Umar Mansoor; Zweli Manquzi; Diane van Staden (AOSIS, 2023-07-01)
    Optometry education, like other health professions, has historically been conducted via contact teaching and learning in classrooms, clinics and laboratories. In 2020, COVID-19 imposed an abrupt move to online learning for higher education institutions. This was performed with little insight into the feasibility and readiness for its adoption within certain contexts, as well as the potential impact on learning. This qualitative descriptive project purposively recruited a representative sample of 30 optometry students from a South African university to explore their experiences of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected using focus group interviews. The data were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically. Four themes emerged from the research, namely; learning how to learn online, need for social support, technology dependent, and authentic learning. The key challenges observed were difficulty in transitioning to online learning, independent learning, and not having reliable access to internet connectivity. Gaps in clinical skills resulting from restricted access to contact training and real-world clinical exposure negatively impacted competency development. Contribution: Pandemic disruptions to routine academic programme activities within higher education institutions have the potential to negatively impact the learning experience for students where institutions and/or students may be unprepared or under-resourced to support such a shift. The results of this study further suggest that exposure to real-world clinical contexts for optometry students should be enabled even under pandemic conditions to promote the development of clinical competencies needed for effective healthcare delivery. Finally, remote online assessments must be designed to support authentic learning so as not to compromise exit-level outcomes, skills and competencies.
  • South African Tourism students’ learning preferences during COVID-19 at universities of technology

    Pavla P. Mokoena; Christiaan Hattingh (AOSIS, 2023-06-01)
    Between 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic forced governments, around the globe, to implement innovative initiatives to avoid a complete collapse of significant sectors. Emergency remote teaching (ERT) operational frameworks were developed through the Council for Higher Education (CHE) to guide higher education (HE) institutions’ operational procedures. Considering that students at Universities of Technology (UoTs) are used to face-to-face teaching, ERT may have been aversely experienced. Thus, for this study, the review of Tourism Management students’ learning preferences during ERT across three South African UoTs were ascertained. Through means of a sequential-explanatory research design, students were asked to complete a survey and, afterwards, those students who showed interest were interviewed in focus groups. Tourism Management UoT students did not see ERT in a positive light as access to HE was a major challenge for them during lockdown periods, indicating a lack of sufficient resources to properly participate in learning activities, and crucially, a lack of access to support mechanisms during ERT. Contribution: This study offers student perspectives of remote learning experiences. This data could assist in offering a balance between ERT initiatives and learner-guided frameworks for HE. This knowledge could be critical in limiting the gap in access and success for hybrid or blended tourism programmes post-COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 and its impact on students with disabilities: A social justice expression at a South African university

    Maboragane J. Magedi; Tebogo J. Rakgogo; Onica S. Mnguni; Madikwa H. Segabutla; Lazarus Kgwete (AOSIS, 2023-05-01)
    Background: COVID-19 as a pandemic has sparked robust debates within the education sector about the need to save lives, save the academic year, ensure that no student is left behind while being cognisant of issues of culture, equity and social justice. Aim: The study explored the challenges faced by disabled students after the introduction of online teaching and learning as a concomitant part of COVID-19. Setting: The study was conducted at a selected University of Technology (UoT) that is based in Gauteng Province. Methods: The article employed a qualitative approach where face-to-face interviews were used for data collection. Purposeful sampling was used to select 30 student participants, five lecturers and five staff members from the Disability Unit. Results: The study revealed that majority of disabled students are disadvantaged when it comes to assessments. It was further established that some of the special arrangements such as additional time and font enlargement of study notes are easily forgotten by the academic staff. In addition, accountability and poor communication between lecturers and support staff from the Disability Unit was cited as one of the qualitative variables that compromise students’ learning outcomes. Online teaching and learning was considered a mode that can be beneficial to both disabled students and their counterpart, normal students. Conclusion: Online teaching and learning is beneficial to the academic project. However, all the necessary resources should be put in place to ensure that no one is compromised in the process. Communication should also be maximised within all the relevant stakeholders. Contribution: The article will profoundly contribute to ensure that there is alignment between policy and practice, especially within the context of teaching and learning that involves students with special needs.
  • International research collaboration between South Africa and rest of the world: An analysis of 2012–2021 trends

    Savo Heleta; Divinia Jithoo (AOSIS, 2023-04-01)
    South African higher education policies have since 1997 called for the expansion of research collaboration with the African continent and Global South. In this article, the authors’ analysed South Africa’s international research collaboration trends and patterns during the 2012–2021 period. Focusing on co-authored scholarly publications, the authors’ analysed bibliometric data from Scopus, highlighting the countries South African public universities have collaborated and produced knowledge with, and the parts of the world they have neglected in the past decade. The findings highlight the growth of South Africa’s international research collaboration and the expansion of the number of countries universities collaborate with. While the past decade has seen a growth in research collaboration with Brazil, Russia, India, China and Nigeria, South African universities continue to be largely Eurocentric and prioritise collaboration with the Global North while sidelining research collaboration with the African continent and Global South. Contribution: The findings presented in this article contribute to an understanding of South Africa’s international research collaboration footprint during 2012–2021 and highlight which parts of the world should be prioritised by universities in the expansion of research collaboration in the future.
  • Table of Contents Vol 7 (2022)

    Editorial Office (AOSIS, 2022-12-01)
    No abstract available.
  • Decolonising and transforming curricula for teaching linguistics and language in South Africa: Taking stock and charting the way forward

    Mark de Vos; Kristina Riedel (AOSIS, 2023-02-01)
    The #RhodesMustFall (RMF) protests at South African universities (2015–2018) were the publicly visible manifestation of deep epistemic problems in the higher education (HE) sector, particularly around questions of whose knowledges are validated and whether these are reflective of students’ lived realities. This exploratory research attempted a snapshot of the state of curriculum transformation of the linguistic language disciplines in South Africa and to identify areas that require more attention. The authors focus on curriculum underpinning the teaching of linguistics and language-related disciplines. The study takes place at HE institutions in South Africa against the backdrop of substantial academic and public engagement around epistemic access in the HE sector. The authors used an anonymous questionnaire distributed among a purposive sample of 32 HE academics within the linguistics and language studies disciplines to elicit views around university curriculum transformation and decolonisation with particular focus on linguistic language disciplines curricula. Generally, practitioners indicate that there have been substantial changes in the disciplines over the past 10 years. There have also been notable achievements with respect to building broad curricula that are responsive to student needs and which balance the need to equip students to engage in global conversations while also being embedded in the contextual realities of South Africa, the African continent and students’ lived experiences. Contribution: The authors conclude that although transformation has progressed considerably in key areas, the representativity of languages and theoretical approaches remain areas for development. The authors also highlight how disciplinary curricular choices are value-driven and that contestations around which values are to be validated may inhibit curricular transformation. In these contexts, individual agency around curricular choices is important.
  • The politics of knowledge in South African universities: Students’ perspectives

    Corinne R. Knowles; Nomphumelelo Q. Babeli; Athabile Ntlokwana; Zhikona Q. Ntombolwana; Zinathi Z. Sobuza (AOSIS, 2023-02-01)
    Knowledge-making in South African universities is set up and framed in particular ways, with a Euro-centric bias. We argue that many of the contributions that African first year entering students could make to this process of knowledge-making are dis-abled, leading to alienation. In this article, we argue for a different perspective and approach to teaching and learning in the humanities. Former Extended Studies students from a South African university have worked collaboratively in a knowledge-making project, and using data generated from this, suggest different kinds of environments and strategies for more inclusive teaching and learning. Using an African feminist theoretical and methodological lens, we consider alternative ways of knowing, and recognition that supports powerful senses of belonging and agency, using examples from student experiences of an Extended Studies humanities programme. We contrast this with how humanities programmes are experienced by some first-year students at the university, sometimes with tragic consequences. Finally, we recommend pedagogic, curricula and extra-curricular changes that can be made, to realise the possibilities of decolonised knowledge-making that is more relevant and inclusive. The authors believe that the ideas around decolonising knowledge that are explored here are more broadly applicable and necessary. Contribution: The article contributes to the conversation on decolonising the humanities curriculum, by including students’ experiences, concerns, and suggestions.
  • Engaging Paulo Freire on deliberative democracy: Dialogical pedagogy, deliberation and inclusion in a transformative higher education online education space

    Doniwen Pietersen (AOSIS, 2022-12-01)
    An effective education system is an environment where students feel cared for, included and are able to deliver critical dialogical input in their learnings on Learning Management Systems (LMS) platforms. The article aims to epitomizes quality education where skills, values and equal distribution of resources can be accessed by all. This includes effectively trained lecturers who manages diversity and teach effectively, to foster success, and to provide a safe and friendly classroom environment for students. This article comes from a larger work done on how to administer clear dialogical and caring aims (policy) in higher online education spaces where students grow holistically and critically. The paper focuses on the kind of space lecturers need to create online in-order to provide students the opportunity to be part of a caring teaching and learning process in order to form part of an active citizenry beyond their immediate context. This article employed a qualitative research methodology, where a questionnaire was used for lecturers at the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of the Free State. These questionnaires covered 30 lecturers who made use of the University’s LMS’ platform. The data was analyzed through the interpretivist paradigm. The finding in this article reveal that the little to no cultivation of critical pedagogical action vis-à-vis the enactment of activism and justice in and through higher education in the context of real pedagogical action in online (LMS) higher education spaces are important. The study is significant because it emphasizes a topic that are helpful in understanding how critical pedagogical action through Freire’s dialogical theory in the online (LMS) higher education platforms ought to be engaged. Contribution: The contribution in this article is an amendment to Freire’s pedagogy frame work framed with the Faculty of Theology and Religion and extending his notion of dialogical engagement to deliberative action in the online (LMS) higher education space is critical tenant for student wholistic growth.
  • Acknowledgement to reviewers

    Editorial Office (AOSIS, 2022-12-01)
    No abstract available.
  • Education in a ‘neoliberalised’ online teaching and learning space: Towards an affirmative ethics

    Lesley Le Grange; Suriamurthee Maistry; Shan Simmonds; Anja Visser; Labby Ramrathan (AOSIS, 2022-11-01)
    The sudden mass migration of teaching, learning and assessment to the digital terrain because of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the global proliferation of scholarship. This scholarship ranges from romantic notions of the opportunity to revivify curriculum and pedagogy in what was deemed an underutilised educational technology (online) resource space to scholarship contemptuous of this newfound romance. This has exposed the potential affordances of online teaching and its adjunctive exclusionary effects. Whilst the authors recognise the short-term benefits of adapting advanced technology for educational purposes, they provoke the question as to the obliterative potential of technology for the human (university academics in this instance) and the non-human/more-than-human. It is, however, without contention that the neoliberal university, driven by the economic viability and sustainability imperative, gives precedence to curriculum delivery and student support to secure degree completion targets even within academic timeframe (year) constraints. As such, it is likely to neglect the cogent matter of the affective as it relates to both academics, students and the non-human. In this conceptual article, Rosi Braidotti’s critical posthumanist perspective is drawn upon, offering both critical and affirmative propositions for moving forward in engagement with technologies in emerging educational online spaces. Firstly, critical perspectives are offered on some challenges of the neoliberal contouring and new regimes of accountability and surveillance that appear to have become more efficacious in the digital space. Secondly, it is acknowledged that humans live in a technologically mediated world and need to navigate this world in productive ways. Braidotti’s philosophy of affirmative ethics helps us to invigorate affordances of educational technology that are hopeful. This article’s contribution lies in alternative imaginings of educational technology, so that technology can be used in ways that advance pedagogical lives and social relations.
  • The social integration experiences of international doctoral students at Russian universities

    Nurudeen Abdul-Rahaman; Evgeniy Terentev; Issah Iddrisu (AOSIS, 2022-11-01)
    Social integration (SI) plays a critical role in doctoral students’ success. However, SI experiences could differ depending on the characteristics of students and their programmes. The study investigates differences in the SI of doctoral students at Russian universities and identifies the main groups at risk who have more difficulties with SI. To achieve this, the study utilized data from a cross-institutional online survey of doctoral students conducted in 2021 on behalf of the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education. A total of 4,454 doctoral students from 249 universities responded to the survey. Findings from the study indicate international students were less socially integrated in terms of having more friends and having problems interacting with others, either in person or remotely. Generally, no clear and significant difference was observed between their experiences and all aspects of social integration analysed in the study. Secondly, international doctoral students (IDS) are divided into groups (groups with low SI scores and groups with high SI scores) and compared them in terms of their subjective assessment of their chances for defence during the normative period of their studies and their overall satisfaction with the doctoral programme. The results for both variables revealed significant differences between IDS and varying degrees of SI. Significantly, the IDS group with a higher SI score reported high chances of defending their dissertation within the normative period of five years. The study concludes by suggesting that that activities that foster informal communication should be implemented and standardized within all departments in Russian universities to properly absorb all doctoral students into the social and academic cultures of their universities.

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