"Academic drift" in South African universities of technology: beneficial or detrimental?

SOURCE: Perspectives in Education
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2006
TITLE AUTHOR(S): A.Kraak
KEYWORDS: EDUCATION REFORM, HIGHER EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY TEACHING, UNIVERSITIES OF TECHNOLOGY
DEPARTMENT: Education and Skills Development (ESD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 4376

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Abstract

This article examines the issue of academic drift with reference to South Africa's former technikons. The shift from technikon to university of Technology and the policy issues which surround these changes, have been viewed pejoratively by many commentators and stakeholders in the technikon sector as "academic drift" with several undesirable educational and economic consequences. It is of course too early to determine how history will judge these recent developments. Up until now participants in the academic drift and merger debates have been higher education leaders who have responded in largely defensive ways, viewing "academic drift" pejoratively, and seeking to protect their institutional rung upon the trinary ladder. The analysis in this article will suggest that the recent developments in South Africa, in particular the upgrading of technikons into universities of technology, could constitute a shift to a more enabling educational environment in which the skill needs of the economy and society are more adequately addresses. This will occur only in four limiting conditions facing the universities of technology are addressed.