Towards an Expanded Discourse on Graduate Outcomes in South Africa

Samuel N Fongwa


With a growing culture of accountability and institutional “managerialism” at universities and other higher education institutions, graduate employability and actual employment outcomes have become key indicators for higher education success. Research on graduate outcomes has gained significant currency among national governments, university management, employers and students. Research on graduate outcomes has, unsurprisingly, focused on econometric and instrumental measurements of graduate outcomes. Taking cognisance of the importance of the econometric, earning-based, and skills-driven conceptualisation aimed at addressing employer expectations of skills demands, student aspirations and a structurally shifting economy/curriculum, I argue for an expanded conceptualisation of graduate outcomes research. I propose a framing that interrogates and accounts for the complex constraints and injustices linked to history, background, and socio-economic context which usually obscure underlying inequalities of (un)employment and graduate outcome numbers always present. I propose a human development (capability-informed) approach as an alternative framework which applies broader notions of human development, social justice and freedoms to graduate outcomes research.


graduate outcomes; employability; capabilities approach; conversion factors

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