Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Making intellectual space

There is a dearth of intellectual spaces in South Africa for sustained scholarly debate on critical issues in higher education.

This is a big problem for the country as a whole and not merely for academics and students, given the challenges that higher education faces in our new democracy and the pivotal role that these institutions should ideally play in making a better future possible.

That is why, commencing in 2010, Rhodes University has decided to embark on a project to host a yearly round-table series dealing with critical issues in higher education.

Pedro Alexis Tabensky, from Rhodes’s department of philosophy, with the support of the university’s Centre for Higher Education, Research, Teaching and Learning, is the series coordinator. The first three round tables, two of which were held this year, are being supported generously by the Ford Foundation.

While we were discussing the possibility of funding with the foundation, we indicated that there was no shortage of vitally important issues that a round-table series could and should address.

And, after the second round table drew to a successful conclusion, it became clear that it is imperative that an ongoing yearly forum be created where these issues can be critically addressed by leading scholars in the field and also by those who have the power to influence the future directions of the sector.

But it is also imperative that the concerns addressed in the round tables should be disseminated widely, so we welcome the interest that the Mail & Guardian has shown in the project.

The first round table, held earlier this year, dealt with academic freedom and institutional autonomy. The starting point for the debate was the 2008 Council on Higher Education task team report, Academic Freedom, Institutional Autonomy and Public Accountability in South African Higher Education.

Although the originally planned topic for the recently concluded second round table was not “the aims of higher education”, it became clear that this issue had to be discussed first to get a proper hold on the ideas of academic freedom and institutional autonomy.

The second round table was extremely successful and the issues discussed are summarised in the articles in this special supplement. We hope that such debates will make a vital contribution to our understandings of the higher education sector and ideally also to the shaping of its future.

Dr Saleem Badat is the vice-chancellor of Rhodes University

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Phoenix activist takes on Durban’s politically connected in November polls

Independent candidates look set to play a greater role in the metro municipality after 1 November

Libyan town clings to memory of Gaddafi, 10 years on

Rebels killed Muammar Gaddafi in his hometown of Sirte on 20 October 2011, months into the Nato-backed rebellion that ended his four-decade rule

Fishing subsidies in the W. Cape: ‘Illegal fishing is our...

Fishers claim they are forced into illegal trawling because subsidies only benefit big vessels
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×