Prior to joining UJ in 2010, Professor Shireen Motala, was the Director of the Education Policy Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Her academic qualifications include: a BA (University of Durban-Westville), a B Social Science Honours (University of Cape Town), an MA (University of Warwick), a PGCE (University of London) ,a PhD (University of the Witwatersrand), and a Certificate in Tertiary Education Management (University of Melbourne).
In March 2010, she was appointed as the Director of the newly established Postgraduate Centre: Research and Innovation at UJ. In the new role as the Senior Director of the Postgraduate School, her responsibilities include leading the University-wide strategy for improving enrolment at a postgraduate level; providing comprehensive lifecycle support for postgraduate students, including for research; and ensuring that the throughput of UJ postgraduate students improves. Says Prof Motala: “The Postgraduate portfolio at UJ is an integral pillar of the University’s global excellence and stature drive, and my vision is to develop a School of Excellence dedicated to postgraduate development and performance.”
She is currently UJ’s representative on the international body, the Council Graduate Schools, and participates in the Universitas 21 activities. She has held numerous leadership roles related to Higher Education including: Chairperson of the Education Policy Consortium (2006-2010), Chairperson of the UNESCO South African Commission (2001-2006), and was the inaugural President of the South African Education Research Association (SAERA) (2013-2014). In 2010, she was appointed by the Minster of Higher Education and Training to serve on the Council of Higher Education (CHE) and re-appointed in 2015 to the Council and to the Executive Committee of the CHE. In 2013, she served on the Ministerial Committee to review the national Senior Certificate examination, focussing specifically on promotion requirements. She is currently a Trustee on the Boards of the Centre for Education Development, and the South African Institute for Distance Education.
An NRF rated researcher, she has initiated collaborations between universities across Africa with Asia and Europe, leading to the formation of long-term regional and international partnerships. She has provided research leadership for national and international research programmes. This has included the Human Rights, Democracy and Social Justice Research Programme ( 2000-2005 ), and she was the principal investigator (SA) for the international Consortium for Research on Equity, Access and Transitions in Education (CREATE) between 2006 and 2011. Her research record is substantial and includes books, publications in journals, book chapters and editorship of local and international journals. She has worked in an expert advisory capacity with various Ministers of Education, and for international bodies such as the OECD, UNESCO and the IIEP. She has been the recipient of different awards, amongst which have been the USIS Spencer fellowship award to Stanford University, the Harvard University South Africa Fellowship Award and in 2014 participated in the UJVC Executive Leadership Development Programme.
Her research interests and expertise have been in the areas of education financing and school reform, governance, education quality and higher education and internationalisation. Her doctoral research examined how financial redistributive strategies can provide equitable access and reduce inequalities in the South African education system. Spanning a long career in research in all its aspects, she led strategies for: research capacity development, knowledge management, research income generation, and stakeholder relationship management. Promoting scholarship and a sound intellectual culture, and developing the next generation of scholars in order to contribute to societal transformation, have been in the forefront of her activities, and will continue her priority to be during her tenure at UJ.