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Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET). Ford Foundation Meeting Cape Town, May 2012.

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Centre for higher education transformation chet

Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET)

Ford Foundation Meeting

Cape Town, May 2012

Centre for higher education transformation chet

The work of CHET/HERANA suggests that it is to the global 'periphery' (in fact, the global 'majority') that we should turn to anticipate the future of higher education in all its frailty and potential. Sir Peter Scott, Professor of Higher Education Studiesat the Institute of Education, University of London

History development of approach
History/development of approach

Reflecting on the role of academics/intellectuals in the struggle (Habermas)

  • Muller & Cloete (1987) The white hands: academic social scientists, engagement and struggle in South Africa. Social Epistemology, 1,2: 141-154

  • Cloete & Muller (1991) Social scientists and social change in South Africa.International Journal of Contemporary Sociology, 28(3-4): 171-192

  • Muller & Cloete (1993) Out of Eden: modernity, post-apartheid and intellectuals. Theory, Culture and Society, 10(3): 155-172

    From protest to policy

  • National Education Crisis Committee (Internal resistance to apartheid [1987])

  • Education policy units (Wits, Natal, UWC in 1989 – activists on campus)

  • National Education Policy Investigation (NEPI) – restructuring SA higher education started with NEPI (web)

  • Union of Democratic University Staff Associations -1991 (back to the street)

  • UDUSA Policy Forum (1993) – prepared for National Commission For Higher Education (NCHE)

  • NCHE – Mandela appointed participatory policy framework


Chet capacity building vs research policy
CHET - capacity-building vs research policy

Coffee grounds of Braamfontein

  • Braamfontein’s rejuvenation from anti-apartheid NGOs in close proximity to the post-apartheid development agencies

  • As with the implicit bargain between the ANC and the National Party, CHET’s work would be both empirical and symbolic

    Capacity-building without a theory – strengthening HE governance (1997) (building the boat on the sea)

    Reviewing first 5 years of post-apartheid HE (2001) – performance indicators

    Policy formation has been SA/Global (Manuel Castells – the rise of the network society )

    Finding the rest of Africa – Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa (HERANA) (2009)


Networked higher education policy investigations
Networked higher education policy investigations

Loosely and tightly coupled networks

High profile Board, two-person office, outsourced services (pay for services) and commissioned experts (academics work for little – no consultants – must be employed elsewhere) and designated project managers

Service providers

Publishing: Compress/African Minds

News: University World News

Events: Millennium Travel

IT: Tenet

Financial Support services: CHEC

Construct research programmes with historical/new networks – local and global

Connect capacity-building – empirical research - training - advocacy


Evidence based e g herana
Evidence-based: e.g. HERANA


Higher Education Research & Advocacy Network in Africa



The HERANA Gateway

An internet portal to research on higher education in Africa

Higher Education and Development

Investigating the complex relationships between higher education and economic development, and student democratic attitudes in Africa

University World News (Africa)

Current news and in-depth investigations into higher education in Africa

The Research-Policy Nexus

Investigating the relationship between research evidence and policy-making in selected public policy sectors in South Africa

Nordic Masters in Africa (NOMA)

Collaborative research training by the Universities of Oslo, Makerere, Western Cape, and CHET


Carnegie, Ford, Rockefeller, Kresge, DFID, Norad


Different unusual models approaches
Different (unusual) models/approaches

Ear of the great man – Castells/Mbeki

Infiltrator – Bunting

Seminars in nice places


Strategically inclusive seminars and presentations
Strategically inclusive seminars and presentations

Seminars are strategically inclusive

  • 10 to 15 seminars per annum over 1 or 2 days

  • includes multiple system levels, i.e. supra-national, government, university management, academics, funders

  • Includes experts, university representatives and policy-makers

    Informational Development and Human Development: Creative Synergy or Mutual Destruction (August 2010)

  • Participants – Castells, 2 NEC members of ANC (coordinator of policy), 3 academic economists who advise minsters or Presidency, Deputy Director-General of Budget in the Treasury, 2 serious capitalists (Africa’s richest woman), 2 VCs, 2 environmentalists (SANBI), 2 ICT (researcher and director general), 6 academics and a political commentator (Mbeki’s brother)

  • Main outcomes: why ICT failed and R300million grant to SANBI

    Differentiation: Diversity and Stratification (January 2012)

  • 7 senior officials from DHET, 1 National Development Plan (Presidency), 1 higher education SA, 3 university directors of planning, 8 CHET network

  • Outcome: DHET ask CHET to organise Differentiation Implementation meeting


Coal face advocacy
“Coal-face advocacy”


  • between experts

  • between experts and bureaucrats


  • to VCs and university councils

  • to HE commissions

    Representation by proxy

  • at government departmental level (e.g. Bunting in DoE)

  • at the level of commissions/committees (e.g. HE financing review committee)

Relentless reliance on data rather than ideology
Relentless reliance on data rather than ideology

“Covert and overt political and ideological agendas will always be there, but once hard data and their implications are widely known as well as to a politician, change is to some extent more likely to move in a sensible direction.” (JBA)

Leads to “empirical independence” of the organisation rather than it being an ideological hand-maiden (of government or others)

Dissemination focused

Publications and other outputs are conceived of as part of the planning process BUT what is produced remains flexible with an opportunistic focus

In order to capitalise on opportunities and to ensure findings remain relevant, the speed of production is essential but not at the expense of quality

All publications and data are open access, and published in multiple formats across multiple channels – the imperative is broadest possible reach


Notes on data
Notes on data

CHET has access to public data which is difficult to access through its networks

CHET adds value to raw data collected by government and/or universities by cleaning, verifying and analysing source data

Data is made public and focused presentations are made to government on key issues (e.g. differentiation; doctoral output, etc.) as well to the universities

In doing so CHET

  • fills the capacity void in the ministry of HE and in many of the universities’ planning departments

  • provides government and institutions with an empirically-based picture of post-secondary education in South Africa

News university world news
News: University World News

UWN Special Africa editions and fortnightly Africa newsletters launched in 2008 in collaboration with the HERANA project.

More than 27 000 people in 150 countries receiving the weekly global edition.

Of UWN’s total of 27 026 registered readers, 13 280 receive the Africa edition.

More than 6 000 of UWN’s readers are based in Africa, in 29 countries.

(Figures as at December 2010)