South African Journal of Higher Education

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An analysis of the performance management of South African higher

D Walwyn


The performance management of higher education institutions is a major challenge for many countries. Such institutions deliver mostly a social as opposed to an economic return, and cannot be evaluated using the same approach as is applicable to a business enterprise. Many countries have developed rather complex and elaborate approaches to this challenge and South Africa is no exception in this regard. The Department of Education, which has the responsibility for managing the country's higher education institutions, has recently revised its evaluation framework, the results of which are used to determine the annual core grants. Although the performance indicators are appropriate to the desired policy objectives, implementation of the framework has been distracted by other objectives of the department. In this article it is shown that funding allocations based on the new formula do not correlate with performance and it is therefore inevitable that the framework will lead to unexpected and undesirable outcomes. At a time when South African institutions are struggling to maintain their competitive position within the global community of universities, this reaction will be extremely unfortunate.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 22 (3) 2008: pp. 708-724
AJOL African Journals Online