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  • Policy Implementation in South African Higher Education: Governance and Quality Assurance post-1994
  • Meistara
  • This study looks at a national policy of quality assurance in higher education in South Africa and aims to find out how institutions respond to and affect the higher education policy process. It sets out to explore the ‘gap’ between policy formulation and implementation.
    South African higher education is considered in the context of the transformation it has undergone since the early 1990s. A review of theory funnels down from broad concepts of new public management and governance towards policy process literature, discussing implementation in particular and modes of governance.
    The discussions of South African context and the theoretical approach frame the analysis of primary data gathered through qualitative interviews with individuals in central administration, and academic development and research units, as well as deans of faculties, at two higher education institutions in South Africa, in August 2008. Respondents were selected on the basis of their roles within the institutions.
    The results suggest that the concept of policy translation could be useful for explaining the dynamics of the proverbial ‘gap’ between formulation and implementation. The higher education policy process, and trends in governance, may support or inhibit policy initiatives. Traditional tensions or contradictions between internal and external mechanisms, development and accountability-oriented perspectives, and bottom-up and top-down structures, can be usefully understood as parallel processes supporting implementation and adoption of initiatives.

  • 11.5.2009

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