Rhodes University and the University of Fort Hare, May 2017

Data collection on the SARiHE project is well underway and on our trip to South Africa so far we have been able to visit both Rhodes University and the University of Fort Hare to meet with project collaborators and some student co-researchers. At Rhodes University we were able to go on a tour and visit different parts of the campus and get a sense of the history and how the university is developing and expanding with a new library building and new student accommodation built on a hill with impressive views over Grahamstown.

We were able to join in the third meeting of the student co-researchers where they were asked to reflect on particular critical incidents from their past learning experiences in their rural home area. They shared their stories with each other and then we had a large group discussion comparing similarities and differences in their experiences. These included, responsibility, discipline and also the impacts on motivation as a result of the difficulties for gaining graduate employment. They reflected on the challenges of valuing rural cultural knowledge and the imperative to ensure this was not lost through the generations since younger people might lose this knowledge and be more influenced by Western ideas and culture. They also discussed the life skills developed in their home rural contexts and how this enables them to be resourceful in their university lives. All of the data was captured on audio recordings as well as student co-researchers uploading data to their individual Evernote accounts adding to our rich data source.

We then went on to meet colleagues at the University of Fort Hare in Alice, which unfortunately due to events taking place was a shorter visit. The University of Fort Hare has three campuses at Alice, East London and Bhisho. Fort Hare has an illustrious past and it was interesting to learn more about this through talking to colleagues and taking a walking tour around the university. Images and reminders of Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela were found all around campus. 

Next stop Johannesburg where Lisa will be visiting the University of Johannesburg and meeting colleagues and student co-researchers.

By Lisa Lucas and Sheila Trahar
4 May 2017