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A Home Away from Home? International Students in Australian and South African Higher Education

An overview of international education in South African higher education

Crain Soudien

University of Cape Town


There is a fairly extensive literature on the internationalisation of higher education (Ruby 2009; Vincent-Lancrin 2009). However, there is relatively little material focusing on the South African experience (see Cross and Rouhani 2004; Dolby 2010; Jansen et al. 2007; Kishun 2009; Ma and Vermaak 2010; Mtembu 2004; Rouhani 2007; Sehoole 2004; Welch et al. 2004). The focus of this literature, as for much of the internationalisation discussion, has been on the flow of students. South African flows, while not at the same levels as those for the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, where registrations have reached about half a million, are significant, as Table 1.1 indicates. In 2007 enrolments were almost 60,000, making South Africa as important a destination as countries such as Spain and New Zealand, and more important than traditional academic centres such as the Netherlands and Italy, which are in the top 10 OECD international student mobility countries.

This strength, however, needs to be read carefully. Vincent-Lancrin (2009, 65) makes the point that the ‘less a country receives foreign students the more these students tend to come from neighbouring countries or countries from the same continent’. South Africa presents itself as a variation on this theme. While it is one of the world’s major academic destinations, and cannot therefore be described as a minor player, the majority of its international registrations, as Table 1.1 illustrates, come from its neighbours. Students from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region make up 41,096 of its total of 59,580 students. Outside of SADC, the majority of the country’s international students come from the European region: 3470 students.

Table 1. South African higher education total enrolments, 2007

Recent public estimates suggest that the value of student mobility is considerable for the gross national products of particular countries, with the US earning up to US$15.5 billion each year, Australia US$15 billion, the UK US$14.1 billion, Canada US4.6 billion and New Zealand at least US$1.5 billion (Ruby 2009). South Africa might not be quite in that league of earnings, but the income generated at particular universities has been sufficient to make it a contentious issue. In 2006 the University of Cape Town (UCT), for example, earned, R15.7 million (US$2.29 million) from its semester study-abroad programs alone (Dolby 2010, 1770).

In this chapter I focus on key features of internationalisation and make the argument that South Africa, both at the national level and the institutional level, has not made internationalisation a focus and, as a result, many issues relating to internationalisation have been and still are treated pragmatically and inconsistently. The reasons for this might be found in the very distinct form internationalisation has taken in South Africa. Important as the country is as an international player, the financial returns of high international enrolments do not carry the same significance as they might in the major-league countries. Because the majority of South Africa’s international registrations are from the SADC region, they pay in-country fees and are not therefore financially consequential. Their presence, however, is. While this configuration has spared South Africa the challenges experienced elsewhere, such as in Australia, for example, where fluctuations in numbers have caused instability in the system as a whole and have come to present a real danger financially to many Australian universities, the country has not come to terms with the reality of its importance as a major site for internationalisation.

The real opportunity that the presence of international students presents for the higher education system is not one that has been grasped in South Africa. Why this is so has to do with the bifurcated form of internationalisation that has come into existence. On the one hand there has developed within the system a reasonably strong awareness of non-African international students and, on the other, a general under-estimation of the significance of what it means to have such a large international African community in the South African higher education system. As a result, the system is characterised by an ambivalence that is not productive. At its core is the figure of Africa and an uncertainty about its value – financially and epistemologically – for the South African higher education system.

To illuminate the nature of this complexity, I begin with a contextualisation of the major issues with which the system is having to engage. Against this, I then reflect on two facets of the international education experience in South Africa: the semester study-abroad experience of a number of American universities and the building of international partnerships involving staff and student exchanges in South African universities. Drawing on an assessment of these two facets, I suggest that universities struggle with the basic task of locating themselves against and within the context in which they find themselves. They also struggle with being productive and generative knowledge producers. The question of their African location, I suggest, is an issue with which they struggle intensely. This is most evident in their curricular response to the phenomenon of internationalisation.

International education and the historical context

International education is not a new phenomenon in South Africa. International students were present from the very early years of the expansion of the South African university system. In the southern African environment, international ‘white’ students from countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya and Namibia came historically, and still come, to South African universities, in particular to those such as Rhodes, Cape Town, Witwatersrand and the then Natal.

With the exception of the University of Zimbabwe, up until independence national universities in these countries were not considered credible by their ‘white’ communities. At the same time, as is well known, the University of Fort Hare (UFH) became – for a period of time during the 1940s and 1950s and still to some degree today – the university of choice for African students from the continent. It remains the major destination of black Zimbabwean students outside of Zimbabwe. Historically, white Zimbabwean students went to Rhodes University. In the contemporary period ‘white’ students from African countries continue to attend historically white South African universities, while their black country-men and -women are attending both historically white and historically black universities. Significantly, the nature of this experience and the implications it had for racial ordering in the country, region and continent have never become explicit issues in the universities. For example, the extent to which affinity and identity were produced and reproduced along racial lines on the continent through the South African university, and the degree to which the university became a site for defining what it meant to be ‘white’ and ‘African’, with the attendant questions of the mission and role of the university, were never issues that publicly and consciously surfaced.

The coming of democracy to South Africa in 1994 reconstituted the question of the internationalisation of higher education. Against the kind of racial internationalisation that the country experienced during the period of colonialism and apartheid, the country and the institutions within it after apartheid have been going through a form of deracialisation that has implications for the ‘official’ attitudes of the institutions and the country to internationalisation. The most critical point to make in relation to this is that officially, with the passage of the South African Higher Education Act in 1997, universities no longer are defined in racial terms. This opened them to students from all over the world and especially from the rest of Africa (Burger 2008; Chenntouf 2006).

Critical issues in South African higher education

As the South African system internationalises, it still remains challenged by a number of issues. Two are pertinent to this discussion: the national financial structure for the support of universities and the discussion taking place in the country around access and what is called transformation of the system.

In terms of the first, it is only necessary to make the point that, with the passage of the South African Higher Education Act, the state distinguishes between South African citizens and international students in how it subsidises them. Currently, with the exception of students from the SADC, and through bilateral agreement with those from conflict-ridden countries like Rwanda, all international students pay full fees at South African universities. The impact this has had on demand for places in the South African system is unclear, but it remains true that the cost of studying for an international student in South Africa is still cheaper than in the major higher education destinations elsewhere in the world.

The second issue holding the attention of the country’s higher education system is transformation. While this has always been high on the country’s agenda, it was brought to a critical point with the appointment of the Ministerial Committee into Transformation and Social Cohesion in Higher Education (MCTHE) after a racist incident at the University of the Free State. In reviewing the situation in the country, the MCTHE found widespread compliance with the policy prescripts for transformation (Department of Education 2008), such as a commitment by institutions to employment equity. Many institutions had put in place initiatives to deal with overhauling themselves. However, probing more deeply, the MCTHE found that no institution was without real challenges (see Higgins 2010; Lange 2010; Seephe 2000). How these challenges were and remain understood is a major source of contention within the system. This is directly relevant for this discussion of internationalisation.

Two approaches in this debate are important to recount. The first is called here the empirical/structuralist approach. It argues that the ideological challenges arising in the South African university are not the most important the system ought to be focusing on. Much more important is the deepening influence of globalisation, in particular managerialism. Universities everywhere are drifting towards the commodification of knowledge and the structuring of the university around corporate and managerialist forms of accountability. This view, which I have called the inside-out view (Soudien 2010), presents itself as a space where the contest for the university is ontologically defined outside of and independent from the local context in which it finds itself. The contest is therefore essentially between new global managerialism and the older rules and modalities of formation that are embedded in the academic disciplines. On the one hand there is an internationalised call for accountability to ideas of efficiency and, on the other, there are the disciplines that constitute the heart of the university.

The second approach seeks to prioritise the local. The university has to look like the society in which it is set. Its objective is to work from the historical reality of the forces of domination and subjugation and to set these right. This is the patriotic university. Its primary objective must be to support the state in its political endeavour of transforming the world in which it finds itself. The interest of this discourse is essentially that of relevance. In this approach the international higher education order is part of the problem with which the higher education system is having to engage, because this order is largely Eurocentric and white.

Suggestive as these two orientations are towards how internationalisation might be perceived, with the first indexing a position of support for internationalisation and the second opposition to it, there has not been a conscious and deliberate consideration of internationalisation within either. As a result, institutions where these two orientations are present have approached the issues of and relationship between transformation and internationalisation pragmatically and often in contradictory kinds of ways. At particular institutions, where there is a sizeable number of Zimbabwean students funded by their government, such as the University of Fort Hare, which has a historical relationship with Zimbabwe, differences of opinion have been expressed by students and their administrations about the virtue of having these students on the campus. The outbreak of xenophobia in South Africa in 2010, when local communities attacked people they perceived to be foreigners in their midst, leading to the deaths of significant numbers of Somali, Zimbabwean and other African nationals, precipitated a moment of deep anxiety within these universities, with South African students expressing resentment about the perceived privileged status of international students. The point to be made is that in neither of these two orientations has internationalisation been deliberately factored into the debate of transformation.

I now turn to two of the most significant types of activity in the internationalisation experience: the semester study-abroad experience of a number of American universities and the building of international partnerships involving staff and student exchanges in South African universities. I then look at what impact these developments have had on key elements of the South African universities’ experience, especially their curriculum activities.

The study-abroad experience

The number of institutions and individuals coming to South Africa on study-abroad or semester-abroad programs has expanded greatly in the last 15 years. Major American universities and, on occasion, less well-endowed ones, have established initiatives in South Africa. The flows, however, have all been one way. They have also been largely, but not exclusively, to the historically white universities. Historically black universities that are an exception to this rule include the universities of the Western Cape and Fort Hare. Many of South Africa’s partner universities, in the US and the UK in particular, have arrangements for students to study in their countries. While there were 5619 South Africans studying in international universities in 2004 (Kishun 2009, 3), the number participating in semester-abroad experiences was and remains small. Between 2002 and 2010, 260 students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) had the benefit of this kind of experience. The highest number to be out of the country at one time was 56 in 2006.

Given the asymmetries of global economics, the flow of students is essentially into South Africa. At UCT the number has grown from 50 undergraduate students in semester-abroad programs in 1997 to almost 1000 in 2010 (Dolby 2010, 1770), generating for the university an income close to R20 million (US$2.92 million). Many South African universities have responded to these developments. At UCT this was one of the reasons for establishing an International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO). The IAPO set up a program designed for international students who wished to spend one or two semesters at UCT, taking (mostly) undergraduate courses for the purpose of transferring credit on completion to their home institution for (usually) undergraduate degree credit.

The major tension that this flow has set up is that between the income the program generates and the pressure it places on the institution. A perception has developed among some at UCT that the provision of places for international students is occurring at the expense of South African disadvantaged students. Faculties with large international enrolments have, as a consequence, placed caps on the number of international students. At UCT the presence of a large number of American students has also caused a degree of tension with South African students. Comments about the Americanisation of the UCT campus have not been uncommon. As the director of IAPO explains, ‘The potential for friction is huge, because internationalization represents an out-of-the-country effort, and transformation is largely an in-the-country effort. Why spend money on getting students mobile when so many students can’t even afford to come to UCT?’ (Dolby 2010, 1780).

Nonetheless, the study-abroad program is an important part of the undergraduate experience at elite universities. Most institutions have it and those that don’t have agencies or consortial models that manage it for them. However, what the study-abroad experience has become in a country like South Africa is not without its problems. One of these is the often unconscious ways in which the American students’ privileged identities are able to be ‘cashed in’ when they come to a less well-resourced environment such as South Africa. They are able to get access to the foremost political, cultural and economic leaders in the country. It is not unusual to hear students and their professors talk of visits to Premier this and Minister that in ways which local people, and especially the powerless, would never be able to achieve. The issue raised by this privilege is how the socialisation of young people into a deep self-awareness is being managed. How do these programs provide an opportunity for the young people to understand the production of difference, of their own identities and those of others in relation to their own?

It is also necessary to consider the reality that these students enjoy a more privileged exposure to the South African context and situation than their South African counterparts. The ‘deep immersion’ that many of the programs offer is beyond the experience of most South African students. This has much to do with South African students’ reluctance to enter the unfamiliar world of the townships and the absence of a culture of ‘interning’ in the universities. The result is that their international counterparts experience an education that is significantly more grounded in the realities of the country.


As Kinser and Green (2009) explain, many institutions around the world are realising that ‘going it alone’ is not a useful strategy for a globalising higher education environment. Cooperation can help institutions to better serve their students, enhance research capacity and also assist them in the process of developing their global brand and their capacity to compete. Noted sociologist and regular visitor to South Africa Manuel Castells has observed that higher education networks seem to be largely missing in Africa and that creating regional networks of excellence is critical: ‘Unless African universities get together they will not have the critical mass to reach the global level’ (McGregor 2009). There is a nascent discussion about regional development among universities. Many are members of the Association of African Universities and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

The kinds of links that South African institutions have tended to build have been with northern universities with which they had strong relationships. These relationships have brought important gains for universities, but have not been without problems. Some universities, such as UCT, have had a large number of agreements with international universities. However, in 2009 UCT decided to undertake a review of these agreements, seeking to prioritise those it thought would add most value. By and large the agreements universities have sought to make have been of a developmental nature. Two are described here: the first is a relationship developed in the late 1990s between a consortium of South African universities and a similar grouping in the US funded by the Spencer Foundation, known as the Doctoral Consortium; and the second is a relationship between the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the Flemish Government.

In 2009 a delegation from the Spencer Foundation in Chicago visited South Africa. The then president of the foundation, Pat Graham, had come to the conclusion that South Africa, along with Russia, was an important country for the US to develop academic links with. The outcome of her visits was the incorporation of South Africa into a major network of 11 American universities, under the auspices of the Spencer Foundation’s Research Training Grant (RTG). The purpose of the network was to improve the training of doctoral students in educational research.

Over the decade of its existence (1999–2008) the RTG was a major incubator for the South African higher education system. Five universities – Western Cape, Cape Town, Witwatersrand, Natal and Durban-Westville – formed a consortium for the purposes of working with the RTG. Each institution was provided with a multi-million-dollar grant by the Spencer Foundation, which allowed the university to undertake the following kinds of activities:

  • the provision of doctoral fellowships
  • a doctoral seminar
  • a national winter and summer school for the doctoral candidates
  • opportunities for expert visits by US academics to South Africa
  • participation in deans’ retreats in the US
  • doctoral supervision workshops in the US
  • skills-development workshops for middle-level staff in the US.

The program was very generative. One of its high-level objectives was the training of 50 doctoral graduates in educational research. While there were, predictably, a number of casualties along the way, overall the program met its objectives and seeded a number of new and young academics into the higher education system and into the research environment. This has alleviated, but not entirely resolved, the major difficulty the system is confronting – an ageing professoriate. This new cadre of people is beginning to play an important role in shaping the intellectual environment in education. In these terms, the developmental objectives of the RTG in South Africa have been met.

A similar success story is evident in the Flemish Inter-University Council (Belgium) partnership in which the UWC is located. Like the Spencer RTG, this partnership provides opportunities for the UWC to allocate resources in strategic areas. It has used the support of the Flemish Government to build capacity in biotechnology, education, mathematics education and a range of areas that have made it possible for the university to emerge as a national leader.

Notwithstanding these success stories, criticisms have been levelled at the nature of the agreements and partnerships. Much of the criticism is derived from the asymmetrical power relations between the South African universities and their northern counterparts. An implicit but under-articulated criticism in both the Spencer RTG partnership and the Flemish program was that the funding conditions of the programs did not sufficiently acknowledge the historical context of South Africa and the level of expertise within the country. The development of curricula and the design of research methodologies tended to take their provenance from similar programs in the US. It is important to acknowledge that big international programs, such as the South Africa Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD), specifically sought to engage these kinds of difficulties.

Importantly, the politics of funding behind many of the partnerships have not been made the subject of systematic review. One significant attempt was made by Emory University in Atlanta to subject the idea of international partnerships to critical review. Through its Institute for Developing Nations it organised a series of colloquia between South Africa, West Africa and Emory to discuss the political nature of the international academic partnership. A colloquium was organised in Cape Town in 2007 to achieve the following:

[We seek to] promote research that will help to improve the lives of those living in poverty; to developing scholarship on and teaching about global and local inequalities in ways that emphasize local understandings of problems and solutions; and, to working toward re-imagining and reforming development practice. We are committed to pursuing these goals in the context of collaborations and partnerships with local research experts in the developing world. Therefore, one of our inaugural activities is a conference on ‘Research Partnerships and Collaborations for Development: Strengthening Structures of Reciprocity and Responsibility’. (Ranchod-Nilsson 2007, 1)

The rationale for the event was expressed by the organisers:

What is the role of the university in research related to development? African universities and U.S. universities have long and divergent histories in relation to this question that would seem to call into question the possibilities of genuine collaboration. Indeed, the track record of collaborations is mixed at best. Too often, partnerships fail to deliver benefits because they are premised on agendas set from the outside, do not take into account vastly different institutional environments, fail to develop relationships that are sustainable beyond designated periods of funding and/or because they are shaped by internal and external pressures that privilege certain areas of inquiry while overlooking others. (Ranchod-Nilsson 2007, 1)

Yet U.S. and African universities have much to gain from research collaborations. Such collaborations should be characterized by mutual benefit and respect for the sovereignty and autonomy of participating institutions. In addition, collaboration must assume fundamental equality of decision-making in terms of setting goals and making decisions about human, material and financial resources, even as we acknowledge structural inequalities arising from the histories of colonialism and globalization. (Ranchod-Nilsson 2007, 1)

The conference brought together researchers from Emory University, collaborating partners from South Africa and several other African countries, as well as regional research institutes and NGOs that support higher education in sub-Saharan Africa, where the challenges and opportunities around collaboration, the ethics of collaboration, the potential benefits and pitfalls of research collaborations in and across particular fields of scholarship (law, anthropology, arts, social science and public health) and the role of institutions in supporting and encouraging collaborative research were discussed. The conference itself was not all plain sailing, bringing together in often contesting ways international and South African scholars operating in the same disciplinary regions. But it marked the beginning of a discourse that has sought to interrogate aspects of the north-south knowledge axis and raised in profile the importance of south-south cooperations.

The most important development to come out of this conference, and now a very critical development on the higher education landscape, is the emergence of collaborations between a number of ‘southern’ countries, particularly Brazil and India. A new generation of Brazil, India, South Africa collaborations has emerged in the last 10 years. Important instances include a collaborative study between institutions in these three countries on inequality, led by the University of Cape Town; the establishment of an Indian Ocean Studies Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand, which has sought to make scholarship and study of the South Africa-India relationship its focus; a study of rural education between the University of Witwatersrand and a number of universities in India; and a large study of race and hybridity between the University of Cape Town and the University of Bahia in Brazil. In the midst of this activity the University of Cape Town has also established the University Science, Humanities, Engineering Partnership in Africa (USHEPiA) program to train academics from the continent at the university and more than 50 doctorates have emerged.

A crucial and ongoing complication in these partnerships is the source of their funding. In virtually all of the south-south partnerships the funding agency has been based in the US or the UK. Developmental agencies such as DiFD and USAid have played a significant role in facilitating these developments, but the programs are dependent on the large funders in the north and this has been a constant source of criticism. It seems that a question raised by the Emory conference in 2007 remains pertinent:

[H]ow does one begin to create durable structures and processes that nurture and sustain unexpected questions and practices across disciplines and publics engaged in the work of development and in improving the human condition? In order to collaborate as full and equal partners we need to acknowledge that there are some structural inequalities built into the relationship, mainly centered on unequal access to scholarly resources and time. How can we transcend these inequalities and structure research collaborations that work toward deconstructing power relations, toward ‘diminishing dependence’, and toward building mutually supportive relationships that expand human capabilities, address pressing social problems and maintain the university’s autonomy, a vital component of democracy in all societies. (Ranchod-Nilsson 2007)

The curriculum

What impact has the form of internationalisation evident in South Africa had on its universities? More specifically, what impact has the implicit decision taken by the system to focus its attention on programs such as semester study-abroad and partnerships with northern universities had on the higher education system?

The results, it must be said, have been mixed. This is not surprising, given the different views surrounding the identity characteristics of the higher education project in South Africa. Central to these differences is a profoundly conflicted understanding of knowledge, its uses, what value it holds in one context as opposed to another and, critically, questions of particularism and universalism.

In reviewing the curriculum debates in the country in relation to transformation, the MCTHE found that the general discussion with respect to the provenance of ideas, knowledge and epistemology was narrow and limited. Positions ranged from those who wish the university to be producing knowledge that is ‘relevant’, to others who argue strongly for academic freedom. The MCTHE concluded that the curriculum was inextricably intertwined with the institutional culture of many of the universities – largely white and Eurocentric and not conducive to the Africanisation of the curriculum. The significance of this conclusion for the internationalisation discussion is evident in what has come to be called the ‘Mamdani Affair’. Mahmood Mamdani, an important African scholar, argued in response to the resistance to his attempts in the late 1990s to restructure the African History course at UCT that the broad approach to curriculum reform in the country was informed by what he referred to as ‘South African exceptionalism, a widely shared prejudice that South Africa may be a part of Africa geographically, but not politically or culturally, and certainly not economically’ (Mamdani 1999, 132). The question he posed was about an Africa without the Africans, which is what many see South Africa as being.

But the situation is more complex. There is a gathering debate taking place in key disciplines in the country around what kind of graduate the South African university should produce and the kind of curriculum such graduates should be exposed to. Central to this discussion, evident in disciplines such as engineering and commerce, is the important question of how academics take under-prepared students and induct them into fields that are now fundamentally shaped by global developments. The challenge is how academics might work with the conditions of the local to prepare for a global environment. Moreover, how they might craft a curriculum in the presence of large numbers of international students.

The context in which this development takes shape is important to understand. At UCT, first-generation university students have tended to enrol in faculties preparing young people for professional careers: commerce, engineering and medicine. In the humanities, enrolments have expanded into new fields of study such as film and media studies. Traditional arts and social science courses have seen dramatic declines in their registrations. Subjects like African languages, for example, have experienced a rapid drop in interest across the country. Ironically, the presence of international students, especially semester study-abroad students, has been able to keep such courses alive. The large presence of international students has also forced lecturers across the university to expand the range of their teaching to include the international context. Fields like law, for example, have had to bring in much more African content.

However, in fields such as engineering there remains ambivalence in the academic community about changing the curriculum. The situation has by no means reached the level of debate that existed in the US around the canon, but positions are beginning to emerge about how much the curriculum should be adjusted to cater for under-prepared students, how much it should prepare young people for the global environment and, critically, how much of the African context it should reflect. It is against this backdrop that UCT developed the Global Citizenship Program (GCP). The GCP is an initiative that has been taken outside the mainstream faculties to make available to students across the university a non-formal program that looks at the issues of development, social justice, war and peace, and climate change. Piloted in 2010, the program has been cautiously endorsed by the university community.

The entry of China into this environment has also been important. Since the early years of the new millennium, the Chinese Government has established Confucius Institutes to promote the culture and language of China. Institutes have been established at the Rhodes, Cape Town and Stellenbosch universities, where they have received a mixed reception. Some institutions have embraced the opportunity and fast-tracked the development of Mandarin courses, while others have been much more cautious.

Important as these developments have been, the country and its institutions have not been able to engage significantly with the phenomenon of internationalisation. The innovations remain on the periphery of the mainstream. While some scholars have been able to create new courses that reflect the provocation of issues such as globalisation and internationalisation, by and large the academy has been unresponsive to the complexity of issues placed before it.


Looking at the experience of the South African higher education system against the study-abroad programs, the development of partnerships and the curriculum, it is clear that internationalisation has been approached in contradictory ways. The universities and their citizens, the academics, have been ambivalent about the increasing presence of the globe on their campuses. While they have benefited financially, some have expressed anxiety about the cost of this benefit to the country. Beyond the economics of having international students within the university, there has not been a systematic attempt to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the status the country occupies in the world. To return to the basic political economy of internationalisation in South Africa, this has much to do with the kind of internationalisation the country has gone through. This process remains framed by the colonial condition in which the country finds itself. While South Africa is working with its international students in much more open ways than the apartheid system did, the fact is that they come from the region and can be assimilated into its hegemonic racial sensibility. In these terms, internationalisation hardly reflects a true emergence of the kind of cosmopolitanism that is experienced in countries such as the UK, the US and Australia.

Troublesome as the semester-abroad students are for institutions such as the University of Cape Town, they represent an opportunity for opening up the discussion of internationalisation in a new way. However, there are difficulties in this route. It may come across as yet another way in which the place of Africa, in this case as a source of internationalisation, is being marginalised. The unarticulated debate taking place within the university with respect to internationalisation and the curriculum is about what view of Africa is being generated. A deputy vice-chancellor at UCT put the challenge in the following way:

There was a dichotomy, there was a false dichotomy between ‘Africa’ and ‘international’, and African standards were low, and international standards were the ones to aspire to. Anything you teach which was African was lessening your place in the ‘world class’ claim. I think that transformation, as presently understood, is to refute that, and that to argue that it is perfectly possible to be of international and world-class standard, and to also promote an African identity, there’s no conflict between these two. (Dolby 2010, 1788)

But do South Africans want to hear this, asked the director of the International Academic Programs Office? This is the question that the higher education system must now address. Whose internationalisation is one talking about? Who is in it and where is Africa in this picture?


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A Home Away from Home? International Students in Australian and South African Higher Education

   by Ilana Snyder and John Nieuwenhuysen