Higher Education funding, Justice and Equity - Critical Perspectives

  • S. Motala University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg
  • M. Oketch University College London
  • G. Wangenge-Ouma University of Pretoria, Pretoria
  • M. Masutha University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg
Keywords: Higher Education, Funding, Social Justice


How governments choose to fund students in higher education (HE) is inextricably linked to the sector’s sustainability and efforts to achieve a just and equitable HE experience and outcomes for all students. The way funding mechanisms are structured and subsequently enacted within the university, has far-reaching consequences, with the implications reaching far beyond the walls of the institution (Shermer, 2021). In the context of austerity, marketisation, credentialisation and related neoliberal conceptions of education and society, student funding models have greatly transformed the sector and its role in enabling or hindering efforts to achieve a more just and equitable society (Quinlan, 2014). However, despite well-intentioned global and national-level policy commitments to achieving justice and equity in and through HE, the persistent effects of geography, race, wealth, gender, and class-based disparities in patterns of access, participation and attainment rates have undermined the idea of HE as a vehicle for just and equitable futures and transformation (Boliver, 2017). Higher education institutions globally find themselves at a crossroads of trying to maintain their core purpose as a public good on the one hand and compliance with global neoliberal policies, which are foundational to the modern university on the other. The tension between these contested and seemingly contradicting paradigms is made visible in how universities respond to issues of inclusion, equity and in how and what they choose to fund.

Author Biography

S. Motala, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg

South African Research Chair in Teaching and Learning


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How to Cite
Motala, S., M. Oketch, G. Wangenge-Ouma, and M. Masutha. 2023. “Higher Education Funding, Justice and Equity - Critical Perspectives”. South African Journal of Higher Education 37 (6), 1-7. https://doi.org/10.20853/37-6-6199.