Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education

Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education




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​Welcome to the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education

Established in February 2016, the Ali Mazrui Centre was formally launched on the 3rd of August 2017. 


The purpose and mission of the centre is to: 

  • Build institutional capacity in higher education leadership, management and governance through professional development programmes that are evidence-based and underpinned by high-quality research. 
  • Produce knowledge that contributes to promoting understanding of strategic issues in higher education through scholarly research that is multi-disciplinary and policy relevant. 
  • Promote critical reflection on, and advocacy of, higher education issues through facilitating and providing a platform for dialogue between scholars, institutional leaders, and policy-makers. 

Vision and Mission

  • The vision of the Centre is to contribute to enhancing the role of higher education towards social and economic development in Africa within the context of democratisation and social justice. The mission of the Centre is to be the Pan-African centre for scholarly research inquiry, training and professional development in higher education.

The Ali Mazrui Centre promotes publications in the following areas 

  • Higher Education Book Series to provide a platform for dissemination of seminal and cutting-edge research on current higher education issues. 
  • Young scholar's scholarship to facilitate dissemination and publication of work by young scholars and graduates with a focus on higher education in South Africa and the SADC region. 
  • The Ali Mazrui Centre Newsletter, a periodical newsletter with information on its activities, plans, announcements and other relevant matters 
The Ali Mazrui Centre has 4 min Areas of Focus 

The Centre will give effect to its mission through four focus areas, as outlined below:

(i) Research Training and Professional Development Programmes 
The Centre will offer research training from masters to doctoral levels. This will enable the development of programmes that are conceptually and theoretically coherent, and targeted at both building capacity amongst institutional managers, officials and policy-makers - both existing and aspiring, in ministries of education, higher education councils and professional bodies and like-minded research institutes, as well as post-graduate students interested in pursuing an academic career and/or a career in public service. The development of a strong post-graduate programme at masters and doctoral levels will contribute to producing a group of highly skilled researchers-cum-practitioners able to pursue careers either in ministries and/or higher education/research institutions. The need for sustained learning opportunities to deepen the research capacity is therefore of crucial importance. 

The focus on formal programmes and qualifications, however, will not preclude the offering of short courses and workshop-based training on specific issues, such as workshops on institutional governance for Council members. As such, short courses and training will also be provided to update and upgrade expertise at higher education institutions, government departments and community and civil society-based organisations. However, short, professional development courses do not provide a platform for the sustained development of capacity. This requires extended residential learning opportunities. For this purpose Masters and Doctoral Programmes are best suited. 

The development of the programmes, while responding to identified needs, will in addition, be informed by the Centre's research programme. It is this focus on developing formal programmes that are conceptually and theoretically coherent, evidence-based and informed by research that will distinguish the programmes offered by the Centre from others currently on offer, which are in the main limited to workshop-based training. 

(ii) Research Programme 
The Centre's research programme will underpin the training and professional development activities. The scope of the research will be broad covering all aspects of higher education. The reasons are two-fold; first, to reflect the emphasis on post-graduate training, specifically the training of early-career researchers and practitioners, which cannot be restricted to issues of leadership, management and governance; second, the development of leadership, management and governance programmes themselves cannot be limited to a technocratic focus on issues of planning, funding, governance and the like. It is imperative that managers are able to locate the technical dimension in the context of the broader social, cultural and political issues that are the cornerstone of policy development in education. 

The specific research themes of the programme will be informed by a combination of the interests of staff employed in the Centre and research partners at other institutions, as well as the policy imperatives at national, regional and continental levels. At the national level, aside from leadership, management and governance, issues such as formal and epistemic access, institutional and system differentiation, internationalization, including ranking systems and institutional culture, among others, will be explored. To support the promotion of a collaborative research culture, proposals for large-scale multi-country, interdisciplinary research projects with the involvement of national and international researchers will be developed. 

(iii) Advocacy and Dialogue 
The Centre will provide a platform for dialogue and engagement on key issues in higher education through colloquia, seminars and conferences. This will further inform the development of the Centre's professional development and research programmes. However, and more importantly, it will contribute to the public discourse and debate on higher education, including the provision of a space for key stakeholders to reflect and engage on pertinent issues.

(iv) Networking and Collaboration 
A primary commitment of the Centre is to expand its linkages to draw on the expertise of organizations with accumulated experience on higher education in Africa and internationally.. In particular, the Centre will seek to establish collaborative relationships in research and training with similar national and regional centres, as well as with universities and educational formations in the region.


22 June 2018 - You reap what you sow 
‘Leadership Under Crisis: The Case of the University  of Johannesburg’ Delivered at the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher education