Access and equity and South African higher education: A review of policies after 20 years of democracy

Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela, Yeukai Angela Mlambo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The demise of apartheid in 1994 introduced many changes to the social, political, and economic sectors of South Africa with similar changes in the higher education sector. This article offers an integrative review and analysis of higher education policies implemented and legislation passed that significantly impacted the nature of the South African system of higher education. While the primary interest is on policies implemented since South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994, the analysis begins with an evaluation of the Extension of University Education Act (No. 45) of 1959, the seminal legislation that created the hyper-segregated system of higher education, the detrimental effects of which most of the policies implemented post-1994 sought to address. We employ content analysis as a research approach and critical policy analysis as a theoretical framework to examine the aforementioned legislation and two post-1994 policy papers, the “Education White Paper 3" and the “National Plan for Higher Education,” which provided a framework for creating a new, equitable system of higher education. While there has been modest success emanating from the implementation of these policies, there are deepseated challenges in the higher education sector that persist 20 years into the new democracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)780-803
Number of pages24
JournalComparative Education Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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