Barriers to Transformation in the South African Universities: Are Solutions Elusive?


  • Paulus Hlongwane University of South Africa
  • Esther M Kgosinyane University of South Africa



apartheid, curriculum, higher education, transformation


This article critiques the barriers to transformation in South African universities since the beginning of the democratic dispensation in 1994. The critique is informed by the historical background of apartheid policies, which were instrumental in perpetuating the social-economic exclusion of black people in higher education institutions. Moreover, this paper demystifies the meaning of transformation in the context of higher education in South Africa. To this end, a review of scholarly peer-reviewed and non-scholarly articles was undertaken as a method of collecting relevant data. On the basis of reviewed literature, it is argued that transforming an institutional culture is not a once-off process but requires constant reinforcement of the desired behavioural practices. Similarly, the patriarchal social ideology that is instrumental in creating gender disparities needs to be removed or spurned. Furthermore, universities need to take proactive measures to rescind policies that create polarisation between black and white people. The article concludes that solutions to barriers that impede transformation processes in South African universities are not elusive, yet a well-articulated vision on transformation, as well as decisive and responsive leadership at universities, is essential.



How to Cite

Hlongwane, Paulus, and Esther M Kgosinyane. 2021. “Barriers to Transformation in the South African Universities: Are Solutions Elusive?”. Commonwealth Youth and Development 17 (1):15 pages.



Received 2018-09-07
Accepted 2020-10-15
Published 2021-02-17