The transformation of higher education in South Africa has formed a significant part of Saide's work since its launch in 1992. In particular, it has lobbied for the provision of high quality education to an increasing number of students, many of who have been excluded from higher education. Its first two major initiatives were a workshop on opportunities for innovation in higher education and the International Review of Distance Education in South Africa, both focused on higher education.
A further extensive research exercise took place in 2004 when we were commissioned by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) to investigate the contribution of distance higher education in South Africa. This report and subsequent policy proposals are available on the CHE website.
Saide's Director, Jennifer Glennie has recently served on the Ministerial Task Team on the funding of higher education, served on the Board of the Council on Higher Education from 1997-2006 and was instrumental in the formation of the first Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), and has served three terms on the Council of Africa’s largest distance education institution, the University of South Africa (UNISA).
More recently, although we still have a very strong focus on higher education in South Africa, we have been very active in the southern African region, particularly through our OER Africa Initiative and Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) Educational Technology Initiative. The former aims to play a leading role in driving the development and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) across all education sectors on the African continent, while the purpose of the PHEA project is to support interventions in universities to make increasingly effective use of educational technology to address some of the underlying educational challenges faced by higher education in Africa.
A staff member has also supported the Council of Higher Education in Lesotho with the development of their higher education policy and strategic plan, as well as providing support in their efforts to strengthen their quality assurance systems.
Other examples of our work in higher education:
- A Saide staff member is on secondment to Unisa, providing support in a variety of ways such as developing a learner support framework and on the more theoretical aspects of distance education.
- Study to Establish the Roles of Educators (Higher Education and FET Sectors) in Mitigating the Impact of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic on the Educational System in South Africa on behalf of Higher Education South Africa.
- International Association for Digital Publications, with the objective to” advance education and thereby relieve poverty, especially in developing countries, by facilitating the introduction and use of digital publications, and by related means.” SAIDE has managed various pilot projects that have taken place in South African universities exploring the use of eBooks and accessibility of cost-affordable devices for students.