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Chapter 1.2 ‘Resistance from the Periphery?’ A Case Study of Attempts to Widen Access to Adult Learners at a South African University

Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body

ISBN: 978-0-85724-903-6, eISBN: 978-0-85724-904-3

Publication date: 28 June 2011

Abstract

This chapter focuses on a case study of attempts at one South African university to widen access to adult learners from diverse race, class and gender backgrounds. It locates the education of adults within a post-apartheid policy framework aimed at transforming higher education on the one hand and pressures on universities brought about by changes in the global economy on the other. It then outlines the history of adult education programmes at the University of Cape Town, an institution that has an elite, colonial history and that privileges research over teaching. The chapter then considers the results of a 2008 survey of adult learners' experiences of the institutional culture and institution's systems, and the ways in which these present barriers to adult learners. It critically assesses three strategies adopted by staff on the ‘periphery’ of the institution to widen access to adult learners; these focus on: changing the institutional culture, developing policies and processes of recognition of prior learning (RPL) and transforming the curriculum. The chapter concludes that programme innovations have been possible with the aim of ensuring that curriculum is responsive to adult learners; however, widening access and increasing participation for adult learners also needs to be accompanied by significant changes in how the university is administered and run and that while alternative access routes into the university are theoretically possible, practical and political barriers remain.

Keywords

Citation

Ismail, S. and Cooper, L. (2011), "Chapter 1.2 ‘Resistance from the Periphery?’ A Case Study of Attempts to Widen Access to Adult Learners at a South African University", Thomas, L. and Tight, M. (Ed.) Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 29-40. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3628(2011)0000006005

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited