More, better, different?: understanding private higher education in South Africa
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This paper draws on the concepts used to analyse the private sector in developing countries in the 1980s, to interrogate data from a qualitative study of 15 private higher education institutions in South Africa. It argues that the majority of private providers meet a demand for 'different' education, which I the South African case takes the form of specialised provision of vocational higher training in niche areas at the intermediate level, aiming to extend access to job opportunities. A small but influential sub-sector meets a demand for 'better' education, which takes the form of exclusive, high-status, university-like provision oriented to global mobility. A minority of providers display elements of responding to a demand for 'more' education, extending access to those excluded from public provision by lack of educational qualifications or finances. This lays the basis for a more nuanced engagement with the private sector.