"Like that statue at Jammie stairs" : some student perceptions and experiences of institutional culture at the University of Cape Town in 1999

Working Paper


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

This report is of value to those studying institutional culture in post-apartheid South Africa, and dynamics of transformation at South African institutions of higher learning. In this project, students spoke out about their experiences at UCT. In particular they describe how they perceived the university and the other students, and how their experiences impacted upon their academic performance and general well-being while attending UCT. In the study, the authors consulted a variety of policy documents and publicity materials from UCT. The authors then held 19 workshops with focus groups of students. Five were mixed while fourteen were purposive in that certain designated students, such as black student,s foreign students, women, etc. were targeted. The initiator of the study conducted ten of the focus groups, but for the others peer facilitators were used. From the findings it is clear that in students' experiences 'whiteness' still largely characterises the institutional culture. Many black students and some white students described incidents of overt racism against black academic staff and students. This report documents suggestions made by students, and also puts forward some recommendations. It is hoped that these will be received in the spirit in which the research was undertaken, namely to be helpful to UCT as it continues along the road of transformation. This report provides a forum in which diverse students voices are collated and reflected, on behalf of the students and committed educators, and for the continuance of outstanding education at UCT.