A World Bank report released on 9 March 2022, re-affirmed South Africa’s distressing position of being the most unequal country in the world. Using the Gini coefficient metric which measures income and consumption disparities, South Africa had scored 60% which is considered highly unequal (Stoddard, 2022). While there are many factors that have contributed to this score, the glaring reality of it has been seen within South Africa’s higher education sector: financial exclusion, high student debt, pay disparities for higher education staff, limited funding avenues in a fees-centred university ecosystem and scarce funding opportunities for new research projects and innovations.

In this episode, three of our guests give their viewpoints of how the sector and government should be addressing these complexities, owing to our pasts of racial and economic inequalities and more recently, student and staff protests for ease of funding and academic inclusivity.

Professor Mohamed Saleem Badat is the Research Professor in the College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is the former vice-chancellor of the university currently known as Rhodes University and was the first chief executive officer of the Council on Higher Education.

Dr Salimah Valiani is a poet, activist, and researcher. She has published four collections of poetry: breathing for breadth (2005); Letter Out: Letter In (2009); land of the sky (2016); and Cradles (2017). Her latest publication is the poem-story, Dear South Africa, one of seven pieces in Praxis Magazine’s 2019-2020 Chapbook Series.

Ms. Katleho Cathy Mthejane is the Secretary-General of the UCT SRC. She is also the Global Diplomat of Madagascar at the Asia Youth International NUM and the founder of the New Age Winnie NGO. She is currently studying towards a BSocSci.

We welcome your feedback, guest and theme suggestions. Email us on theacademiccitizen@gmail.com or on our WhatsApp line on +27 76 608 3177.

Find this episode’s Read the Room here:
Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh’s The New Apartheid and Dieynaba Ndiaye’s Buying our way into humanness: consumerism and the dehumanisation of the poor

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