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Nasima Badsha honoured for transforming higher education
Author: Corporate Communication and Marketing/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking [Rozanne Engel]
Published: 14/12/2020


“I congratulate all of you who have earned your qualifications this evening after years and years of hard work. I sincerely hope that you will be able to fulfil your dreams and aspirations. I hope that you will go on to make advances in your chosen professions and academic fields and that you will do so in ways that contribute in building a more just and sustainable society."

With these words, Ms Nasima Badsha congratulated and motivated Stellenbosch University (SU) graduates at a small physical graduation ceremony for doctoral graduates from the Faculty of Military Science, Theology, Education and Law held at SU's Endler Hall in the Konservatorium on Monday evening (14 December 2020).

At the same ceremony, Badsha received the degree Doctor of Education (DEd), honoris causa, in recognition of her visionary, courageous and innovative leadership in steering the transformation of the higher education system in South Africa.

During the ceremony, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers said that Badsha has always been committed to “excellence and the core intellectual dimensions of higher education" and “intellectual contribution" in the form of policy development and advice to the education sector.

“Nasima Badsha has made outstanding contributions to higher education in South Africa. Her career spans over thirty years and features pioneering work, underpinned by her strong drive for access, equity and social justice," said De Villiers.

In her speech, Badsha thanked the Faculty of Education and the University for rewarding her with an honorary doctorate.

She also called on universities such as Stellenbosch, government, industry and civil society to nurture, grow and sustain strong universities and particularly research universities, so they can continue to thrive and effect change in society.

“The pandemic has been a stark reminder of a need for strong research universities in the country and indeed on the continent, able to operate at the cutting edge of new knowledge and technology with the view amongst others to respond to local and global challenges brought by poverty and inequality, social exclusion and climate devastation.

“I have no doubt that Stellenbosch University will continue to play a leading role in the country and beyond. I particularly salute the role that the University plays in welcoming students from across the continent and more generally in the level of support provided for postgraduate studies and for early career advancement of emerging scholars," said Badsha.


Badsha has played a vital role in the transformation of higher education in South Africa since the 1980s.

Born in Pietermaritzburg in 1951, she graduated from the University of London with a BSc (Honours) and from the University of Leeds with a Graduate Certificate in Education. She returned to South Africa in 1976 as a lecturer until moving into academic development and student affairs at the universities of Cape Town and the Western Cape, respectively.

In 1994, President Nelson Mandela appointed Badsha to the National Commission on Higher Education, where she played a key role in conceptualising the new higher education dispensation. Appointed deputy director general of the Department of Education in 1997, she helped draft the Higher Education Act of 1997, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act and the Standard Institutional Statute.  Her role in the implementation of Education White Paper 3 and the National Plan for Higher Education led to the large-scale restructuring of higher education from 2002 to 2005.

She became chief executive officer of the Cape Higher Education Consortium in 2007, retiring in 2018. South Africa continues to benefit from her expertise through her involvement in university and foundation councils.

To watch the full graduation ceremony, click here. ​

In the photo above from left, Justice Edwin Cameron (SU Chancellor), Dr ​Nasima Badsha​, Prof Wim de Villiers​ (SU Rector & Vice-Chancellor​) and Prof Mbulungeni Madiba​​ ​(Dean of the Faculty of Education).