Prof Thierry Luescher is a research director in the HSRC's Inclusive Economic Development division where he leads a group dedicated to research in the fields of post-schooling and work. He holds a PhD in political studies from the University of Cape Town (2009) and a PGDip in higher education studies from the University of the Free State (2018) where he is an affiliated associate professor of higher education. Luescher has expertise in the politics, policies, and governance of higher education and the development of universities in South Africa and Africa. His research niche includes the student experience of higher education, student politics, and student affairs and services in Africa.
Luescher was formerly a senior lecturer in higher education studies and an extra-ordinary senior lecturer in political studies at the University of the Western Cape (2009-2014), and the assistant director for institutional research at the University of the Free State (2014-2017). Since joining the HSRC in 2017, he has participated in a range of projects including the investigation of skills development legislation for the parliamentary high panel ('the Motlanthe Commission') in 2017 with Dr Vijay Reddy and Dr Angelique Wildschut. He has led a range of projects on university-community engagement, innovation policy and skills planning, as well as ongoing work on student leadership in higher education and particularly the #FeesMustFall protests of 2015/16. Luescher is the principal investigator of a research project on the transformation of public universities in South Africa for the ministerial Transformation Oversight Committee (2021/22). He is also the coordinator of the sub-project 'Reimagining the African university' of the HSRC's The Imprint of Education project.
Luescher is a National Research Foundation-rated researcher. He has published over 50 scientific publications in local and international peer-reviewed academic journals and books, and several high-level research and policy reports. Luescher has also co-edited several books, including Reflections of South African Student Leaders, 1994-2017 (co-edited with Denyse Webbstock and Ntokozo Bhengu), published by the Council on Higher Education in 2020; Innovation Policy at the Intersection (co-edited with Mlungisi Cele and Angelina Wilson Fadiji), published by the HSRC Press in 2020; and Student Politics in Africa: Representation and Activism edited with Manja Klemencic and James Otieno Jowi (African Minds, 2016). His recent photovoice project on #FeesMustFall has generated a widely acclaimed photo exhibition entitled 'Aftermath: Violence and Wellbeing in the Context of the Student Movement' (available online at South African History Online). Luescher is an executive editor and co-founder of the Journal of Student Affairs in Africa, an international editor of the Makerere Journal of Higher Education and the Journal of College Student Development, and an editor of the book series African Higher Education Dynamics. His publications can be downloaded at www.thierryluescher.net.