Higher Education in the 21st Century – Diversity of Missions: Abstract by Mala Singh

 

Valuing Diversity of Higher Education Missions as a Qualified Good

Mala Singh, Council on Higher Education, South Africa

Focusing missions to achieve diversity in higher education and steering towards a differentiated system have become staples of higher education reform and indicators of progress in a range of countries which have very different histories and development trajectories. Diversity as a ‘policy good’ is increasingly taken to be part of a global common sense of higher education, with presumed benefits that ostensibly span both public good and efficiency/competitiveness imperatives.

This paper draws on issues from the post 1994 restructuring of South African higher education in order to reflect on the qualifications and conditions under which mission diversity could yield optimal levels of social value, especially in contexts of severe social and economic inequality. The paper seeks to engage with the forms and levels of diversity that are necessary but also those which are risky, especially in relation to social justice imperatives in the reform agenda.