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Global Competition and Employment Equity in South African Higher Education

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Leaders of higher education institutions (HEIs) worldwide are simultaneously concerned with ensuring workplace equity and increasing the national and global stature of their institutions. Websites provide an effective platform from which HEIs project their desired identity and aspirations toward both employment equity and global competitiveness. In this article we focus on South Africa as an illustrative case and analyze content from the websites of University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand, and University of KwaZulu-Natal. We consider the images the institutions project regarding their goals and purposes, specifically the prominence of global competition and employment equity in the institutions’ visions, missions, core values, and other website content. Our analysis demonstrates that all three universities project their institutions as aiming toward being more globally competitive and demographically representative. Yet, the balance of their imagery is decidedly upon global competition. We suggest this emphasis is disconcerting due to the message it conveys to potential academic staff members about what the institutions value. The current university environment may not be attractive to the very groups of people who would make the institutions more equitable in terms of academic staff demographics, particularly in an increasingly competitive and market-driven academic workplace.

Keywords: Higher Education; South Africa; employment equity; global competition; rankings

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: California State University, Long Beach

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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