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Going to University : The Influence of higher education on the lives of young South Africans

Case, JM; Marshall, D; McKenna, S; Mogashana, D

This book contributes to broader debates about the significance and importance of higher education in a number of distinctive ways. First it is based on the narratives of students who started degrees at a number of South African universities. This may not sound remarkable but I will argue it is because we have limited knowledge of what it means to this generation of young adults to have been to university, regardless of whether or not they are deemed to have succeeded. These stories are important and they challenge many of our preconceptions. Second the book makes a virtue of writing in a way that makes these narratives open to a wider audience. It wears its academic credentials lightly in order to extend the range of readership beyond the narrow band of scholars who study higher education as their profession to include those who have a broader interest in higher education. This is increasingly important in a context where debates about the purposes of a university education have narrowed internationally to a concern with the economic benefits to individuals and society. Third the authors speak from and contribute to debates about the significance of higher education in the South African context. The complexities and difficulties of the legacy of apartheid and the creation of systematic educational inequality by political design are of immense importance. Questions about how these might be overcome have provoked South African scholars to ask searching questions about the roles and limitations of universities. This has heightened significance in terms of the timing of this book written at a time of student protests and a broader politicisation of the debate. Finally, these arguments have international significance because the South African case has sharpened the debate about equity and higher education. Some of the best writing about higher education in recent decades has come from South Africa. The book is underpinned by an argument that we need not just look at embedded structural constraints but that we should also consider how people understand their situation and their own abilities to act; hence the importance of narratives. It offers readers an opportunity to think about broader questions of agency and constraint, and issues of race, class and gender. It is an invitation to consider these going to university matters because they have wider societal and political significance. What makes their contribution impressive is that the analysis is underpinned by considerable theoretical sophistication. That it is accessible and readable, and made available through open access, makes their arguments more, not less, important.

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Title of Paper: Going to University : The Influence of higher education on the lives of young South Africans
Publisher: African Mind

Document Type:Book (Peer Reviewed)
Subject Area:Contributory Studies and Research Approaches
Country:South Africa
Keywords:Health Education, Higher Education Systems, Student Experience, Postgraduate Students

File Size: Bytes
Date Added:08 October 2018

Case, JM; Marshall, D; McKenna, S; Mogashana, D Going to university, The Influence of higher education on the lives of young South Africans,i> (2018) African Minds