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Prof Chris Brink addresses the launch.


ON Wednesday 19 September 2018, JIAS, the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education at UJ, and the UJ Postgraduate School hosted the Gauteng launch of a book by Prof Chris Brink entitled The Soul of a University: Why excellence is not enough.

Chris Brink is Emeritus Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, and a former Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University.

After an introduction by the author, the book was discussed by a panel comprising Prof Jonathan Jansen, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State; and Prof Tawane Kupe, a Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand.


In this innovative book, Chris Brink offers the timely reminder that universities should have social purpose, as well as achieve academic excellence. They should focus not only on what they are good at, but also on what they are good for. He also argues that the current obsession with rankings and league tables has perpetuated inequality, and is preventing social mobility. This book shows how universities can – and should – respond to societal challenges, and promote positive social change. (Bristol University Press, 2018.)

More about Prof Brink

Chris Brink is a South African mathematician and academic, and a graduate of Rand Afrikaans University, forerunner to UJ. He served as Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University from 2007 until 2016. Previously, he was Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) of the University of Wollongong, and Head of Mathematics and Coordinator of Strategic Planning at the University of Cape Town. In the UK he served on the Boards of Universities UK, the Quality Assurance Agency, and the Equality Challenge Unit, and chaired the N8 Research Partnership, an association of eight major research-intensive universities in the North of England. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa.

‘Good books about universities are, alas, rare. This is a very good contribution, full of practical good sense and wisdom, all done with clarity and intellectual rigour.’ – Lord Patten of Barnes (Chris Patten), Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and the last Governor of Hong Kong

With deft clarity and deep humanity, Prof Brink casts a logician’s eye over the current state of higher education. He demonstrates how misguided attempts to improve accountability have led to the unmeasurable being measured and the valuable being devalued. This is a modern morality tale which deserves the widest readership.’ – Sir Howard Newby, former Vice-Chancellor of Liverpool University and former Chief Executive of HEFCE.

‘Chris Brink has a very special record of service to higher education and its social relevance. His scholarship and vision speak for themselves. His devastating demolition of the current preoccupation with league tables is brave and timely.’ — Lord Judd of Portsea (Frank Judd), former British Labour Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.


prof jonathan jansen

Prof Jonathan Jansen, former Vice-Chancellor of University of the Free State.

prof tawana kupe

Prof Tawana Kupe of Wits University holds the floor.

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