TRANSFORMING SOUTH AFRICA’S UNIVERSITIES OF TECHNOLOGY: A ROADMAP THROUGH 4IR LENSES

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Muthoni Masinde
Peter A Roux

Keywords

Fourth industrial revolution (4IR), universities of technology (UoTs), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), university transformation, university transformation

Abstract

Since their birth in the 6th century, universities have undergone different forms of transformations, especially of structural, ideological, and epistemological nature. Recently, the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) has triggered a wave of such transformations and just like other industrial revolutions, university management ought to be cautious as such transformations could exacerbate existing inequalities between the rich and the poor students. To this end, a clear roadmap for such a transformation becomes critical. This is the contribution of this paper. We achieve this through a bibliometric analysis of the state of scientific research into the ‘university transformation’ topic, with a special focus on South Africa’s (RSA) context. The content of the identified scientific publications on RSA was further subjected to thematic analysis leading to the revelation that decolonisation, community engagement and structural transformation, are the main research themes. It also emerges that RSA universities have not embraced 4IR as a lens through which to pursue transformation. On the other hand, the RSA government launched the project: “Transformation at Public Universities” during the 2017/18 planning year. Subsequently, all universities in the country adopted and rolled out a customised transformation agenda. Among these universities, are the six universities of technology (UoTs), which, for historical reasons, the transformation project presents unique challenges and opportunities. Created slightly after the millennium, UoTs are still seen as critical role players in the third mission of universities, that of “achieving economic growth and social progress”. These findings, as wells as the existence of systemic exclusion, marginalisation, and discrimination (especially along racial lines) in RSA universities, defines our proposed roadmap. Using one of the UoTs and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as the reference, the proposed university transformation roadmap is supported by empirical data on the assessment of the readiness of students to adopt 4IR technologies.

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