Constructions of students as clients or partners in knowledge creation?
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This study explored notions of ‘the student’ within the South African higher education context. Qualitative data from interviews with twenty-three executive and senior Student Affairs staff and practitioners were collected from three higher education institution in South Africa. The data were thematically analysed. The findings suggest that notions about students as ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘needing support’ as reflected in the South African policy documents is not congruent with the discourses in current Student Affairs in South Africa. Findings suggest that deficit discourses have been replaced by strengths based paradigms which construct the student in heterogeneous individualistic terms. Consumerist frameworks constructing the student as client have also emerged. The conceptual framework within which Student Affairs is embedded needs to reflect the changed discourse in Student Affairs practice in South Africa.