Initial Experiences of African Students When Entering the Higher Education Institution: A Social Justice Perspective




social justice, social work, access, African, university


Access to resources is a fundamental component when addressing matters of social justice, fairness, and human rights within a democratic society. In this article, utilising a social justice framework, the author delves into the perspectives of social work students regarding the preferential or detrimental access of first-year African students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds at a South African university. For this study, a purposive sample of twenty-two (N = 22) participants was selected. Data were gathered through focus group discussions and individual semi-structured interviews. The participants emphasised key aspects of access, including the university’s location, admission to preferred programmes, accommodation, and financial support. These access factors critically reflect on issues of justice and fairness when it comes to entering higher education institutions. Interestingly, the diverse profiles and backgrounds of the students did not influence the university administration’s approach to access, resulting in a negative impact on the students’ access experiences due to an emphasis on equality rather than equity. Consequently, there is a pressing need for social justice principles to guide decision-making processes that focus on students’ access to higher education. Structural transformations within higher education institutions are imperative to ensure fairness in access, particularly for historically disadvantaged students.


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How to Cite

Makhanya, Thembelihle Brenda. 2024. “Initial Experiences of African Students When Entering the Higher Education Institution: A Social Justice Perspective”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 36 (1):20 pages.



Received 2023-01-31
Accepted 2024-02-28
Published 2024-05-15