South African Journal of Higher Education

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The Vudec merger: a recording of what was and a reflection on gains and losses

HM van der Merwe


The restructuring of higher education in South Africa is being dually steered by an
equity and a merit imperative. In the move towards creating a single dedicated
distance-education institution, the outcome of the merged incorporation of Vista
University Distance Education Campus (Vudec) into the University of South Africa
(UNISA) implied the obliteration of the Vudec culture. This has warranted the
recording of the Vudec culture based on the valid need to document the existence of
an institution of higher education over a period of 21 years. It has also warranted
an assessment of gains and losses as a result of the merger. Based on literature and
a qualitative study undertaken in Vudec, the Vudec institutional culture has been
documented and gains and losses for Vudec students and staff determined. It is
argued that although significant gains were made, such as better opportunities for
students and staff due to improved resources, a serious loss has been incurred in
the disappearance of the under-developed student corps of practising teachers.
Apart from not fully accomplishing the equity goal, this loss also jeopardises merit

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 21 (3) 2007: pp. 537-551
AJOL African Journals Online