Since the demise of the apartheid order, South African higher education has seen massive changes which have left an indelible imprint on the system, its constituent institutions and practices. The first democratic government established a National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) which charted a programme of transformation for the sector. By 1997, key higher education policy and legislation informed by the work of the Commission was in place to enable the systematic programme for the transformation of higher education to unfold. In the decade since the adoption of the White Paper on Higher Education and the Higher Education Act, change has manifested on many fronts.

The South African higher education landscape experienced seismic shifts during the 2015/16 year and was a testing time for all. Towards the end of the 2015 academic year the #FeesMustFall movement rocked the university sector in unprecedented ways reminiscent of the biblical “David and Goliath” when an underdog challenged a giant. Sustained student protests, violence, destruction of property and postponement of examinations changed the character of the higher education system as we knew it.