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A conceptual exploration of academic freedom and institutional autonomy in South African higher education : postmodernism, globalisation and quality assurance.

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This thesis proposes a conceptual framework for the discussion of concepts of academic freedom and institutional autonomy in a South African higher education context. A four-cell matrix is presented at the start of the thesis that distinguishes four types of understandings of these concepts. Having discussed these concepts-in-use in different contexts, the grid is used as a framework to explicate local debates on academic freedom and institutional autonomy. Beyond the conceptual exploration, the thesis traces a variety of broader debates in higher education in an attempt to add a richness to the South African conversations relating to academic freedom and institutional autonomy. Postmodernism and its implications for higher education in South Africa is explored, as is the more recent phenomenon (or ideology) of globalisation. Finally, the advent of external quality assurance in South Africa is considered and its role in changing perceptions of academic work and academic identity through the potential circumscribing of the academic domain is explored. My hope is that this thesis will contribute to a broadening and deepening of the current South African debates, and at the same time, offer a uniquely South African perspective on global conversations on academic freedom and institutional autonomy.


Thesis (Ph.D.) - University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2008.


University autonomy--South Africa., Academic freedom--South Africa., Education, Higher--South Africa.