News & events



26 July 2021
12:30 - 14:00

26 July 2021 | 12:30 – 14:00 |

Zoom link:

There is currently much debate about youth livelihoods and the shape, form and function of higher education on the African continent, with many compelling and competing views. The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), is currently undertaking a wide-ranging study entitled The Imprint of Education (TIE). The study, which is funded by the Mastercard Foundation, focusses on understanding the impact of university education on mostly first generation graduates – both their career trajectories and their contributions to family, community and society. The study comprises a number of learning activities, and this webinar forms part of the learning activity 4, that engages experienced scholars and thought leaders on the kinds of universities we need to ensure a continent able to deal with its challenges and takes its place in the world. 

This seminar offers a comprehensive overview of the state of African higher education in two parts. The first part sketches the long history of the African university from its roots in ancient Egypt to the significant contribution it has made in the last 1000 years  – from institutions that arose out of religious centres, predominantly Muslim, to institutions which emerged in the colonial and post-colonial period. This part of the seminar concludes with an analysis of the impact of structural adjustment programmes on the university system. The second part of the seminar offers a review of how institutions and systems have attempted to reform themselves after the difficult 1990s and leads into the question of the future of the African university. This view of the future is derived from considering the strategic plans of ten key institutions across the continent – to understand their contexts, missions and visions for the future.


Prof Catherine Odora Hoppers, Professor of Education, Gulu University, Uganda 


Prof Sharlene Swartz, Division Executive: Inclusive Economic Development, HSRC


Prof Crain Soudien, Honorary Professor, Nelson Mandela University

Ms Tarryn de Kock, Senior Researcher: Inclusive Economic Development, HSRC


Prof Thierry Luescher, Research Director: Inclusive Economic Development, HSRC

This seminar is partially funded by the Department of Science and Innovation. The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI. Please note that this seminar will be recorded and published on the HSRC podcast channel. The HSRC complies with the South African PoPIA and the Electronic Communications Transactions Act of 2002 Section 45: (1) any person who sends unsolicited commercial communications to stakeholders, must provide the stakeholders with the option to cancel their subscription to that mailing list. To opt-out or unsubscribe from this mailing list, please email us at