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Addressing inequalities in higher education: theoretical approaches and evidence from practice in South Africa

Room 524, School of Education (Building R19)
Social Sciences
Monday 6th November 2017 (14:00-17:00)
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Ann-Marie Bathmaker

Higher education (HE) in South Africa is seen as playing a significant role in growing skills and a knowledge economy and contributing to social mobility. Yet South African HE is characterised by inequalities of access, participation and success. The transition from a racially segregated system has generated equity and quality challenges, especially affecting black students from disadvantaged rural and township backgrounds. In this seminar we present work from two different projects that seek to both investigate these challenges, and contribute to developing more equitable HE: .

The Miratho project (ESRC DfID funding) is working with the Thusanani Foundation, a South African youth-led organization, to understand how different factors interact in HE to inhibit or enable capabilities that are valuable to individuals and to building a decent society.

Overcoming Barriers to University Education in South Africa (OBUESA) (AHRC, GCRF funding) is a collaboration between researchers at University of Birmingham, University of Cape Town, and Universities South Africa, a non-profit organisation representing South Africa’s public universities. The research project seeks to increase access to, and success in, higher education for currently disenfranchised sections of society in South Africa and builds on existing research into translanguaging as pedagogy and multilingualism in society.

In the seminar, we will discuss the approaches used by these projects and present outcomes from both studies.

  • Translanguaging: what it is, what it does, how it can be useful (Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge, University of Birmingham)
  • Capabilities theory: what it is, what it does, how it can be useful (Melanie Walker, University of the Free State, South Africa)
  • Epistemological and epistemic access to HE for rural and township youth (Monica McLean, University of Nottingham and Ann-Marie Bathmaker, University of Birmingham)

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