Page 1 - Centre for Higher Education Development

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Dean’s report
The mission of the Centre for
Higher Education Development
(CHED) is to promote equity
of access, effectiveness of
teaching and learning, and the
enhancement of curriculum, with
the aims of improving student
success and ensur ing that
UCT’s graduates are globally
competitive, locally relevant, socially
responsive, and fully representative of
South Africa’s diverse population.
CHED’s research arises from institutional and national
needs, as well as individual interest. Higher education
is responsible for producing the graduates that provide
the core of the advanced knowledge and skills that
are essential for South Africa’s social and economic
development. This represents a major challenge that
the sector is still far from adequately meeting. The
government has identified skills shortages as a central
obstacle to development, but despite some remarkable
achievements and areas of excellence, South African
higher education remains a low-participation, high-
attrition system, characterised by race and class
inequalities in access and success rates that severely
impede progress. Fresh approaches, based on
systematic knowledge of teaching and learning, are
needed to ensure that the universities, including UCT,
can maximise their contribution to the country.
CHED’s research mission is geared to addressing this
need through investigating and developing educational
theory and practices that are effective in our context.
It aims to ensure that educational development work,
at and beyond UCT, is based on rigorous and ethical
research that serves such objectives as equity of
access, realising the academic potential of students
from all sections of the population, improving graduate
output and outcomes, and generally strengthening the
quality of teaching and learning in higher education.
Much of the research focuses on teaching-and-
learning approaches, curriculum design – often in
relation to specific disciplines – and the conditions
that promote learning. There is also a
strong strand of research on and for
higher education policy, sponsored
by bodies such as the Department
of Higher Education and Training, the
Council on Higher Education, Higher
Education South Africa, international
philanthropic foundations, and the
National Business Initiative.
South Africa’s challenges are
substantial, but not unique, and a
key feature of CHED’s research is to
draw on, extend, and disseminate
the body of tertiary teaching-and-
learning knowledge that has been rapidly growing
internationally over the last three decades. To this end,
many CHED academic staff are developing productive
associations with individuals, institutions, and scholarly
bodies abroad, and CHED’s Centre for Educational
Technology is leading the way with linkages elsewhere
in Africa. CHED’s intellectual contribution to national
education debates continues to be strong, as indicated
in publications in accredited local and regional journals,
such as the
SA Journal of Higher Education, African
Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and
Technology Education,
Southern African Linguistics
and Applied Language Studies.
In addition, international
interest in South African higher education research is
evidenced in the growing number of CHED publications
in leading international journals such as
in Higher Education, Studies in Higher Education,
International Journal for the Study of Southern African
Literature and Languages, International Journal of
Community Research and Engagement
Journal of Education and Development using ICT.
CHED’s research activity and output are increasing.
Indicators of growth include a doubling of peer-
reviewed, accredited journal articles from 2005 to
2011, and a fivefold increase in the value of research
contracts between 2007 and 2011. CHED now has eight
NRF-rated researchers, and, with nearly two-thirds of
its permanent academic staff actively involved in the
Emerging Researcher Programme, we believe that this
number will increase steadily.
In this year’s Research Report we showcase four
research projects that, in different ways, support CHED’s
mission of promoting equity of access, effectiveness
of teaching and learning, and the enhancement of
Centre for
Higher Education