Key challenges facing the South African academic profession at the interfaces of management, interaction with the international academic community and service for society
Wolhuter, Charste C
Higgs, L G
Ntshoe, I M
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The international Changing Academic Profession (CAP) research project is currently surveying the academic profession in 22 countries. At the planning conference of this study, three emphases in the contemporary professional environment of academics have become particularly persuasive: relevance, internationalisation and management. As part of the international research team of the CAP research project, the authors have applied the questionnaire of the CAP survey (which measures academics' experiences and responses to these three trends) to a sample of the South African academic profession. The results show that while the South African academic profession has made the mind-shift from the traditional conceptualisation of the university as an “ivory tower institution”, rather detached from society in its pursuit of truth, to an institution relevant to the concrete and immediate needs of society, the profession could thus far not succeed in giving practical effect to this changed concept. While the South African academic profession has internationalised rapidly during the first decade after the repeal of the international academic boycott against South Africa, to the point where it has become more internationalised than its colleagues abroad, it has been losing ground again during the past few years. It is in its relationship with management that the biggest cause of concern for the South African academic profession lies. This research indicates that the South African academic profession finds itself in a highly prescriptive environment, over which it has little influence, and which it does not find very supportive of its teaching and research activities. In conclusion, follow-up research aiming at addressing these problems is recommended.