Sustainable Transformation in South African Rural Universities: A Digital Perspective


  • Oluwatoyin Ayodele Ajani University of Zululand



Digital transformation, sustainability, South African rural universities, transformative theory, UTAUT theory, inclusive education


Purpose: This study investigates the relationship between digital transformation and sustainability in South African rural universities, focusing on the effects of digital technologies on educators, students, administrators, policymakers, and the community. It aims to understand the implications for inclusive education, cultural preservation, and economic empowerment within the unique context of South African rural communities.

Study design/methodology/approach: The research employs a transformative framework and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) to analyse the dynamics involved in digital tool adoption. It emphasises strategic planning, infrastructure investment, training, and inclusive policy formulation as critical components for effective digital integration. The study also highlights the importance of continuous monitoring and evaluation to ensure the successful alignment of digital initiatives with sustainability goals.

Findings: The findings reveal that strategic investment in digital infrastructure, comprehensive training programs, and inclusive policies are essential for effectively integrating digital technologies in rural universities. The study underscores the potential of digital transformation to enhance inclusive and equitable education, bridge disparities, and promote the holistic development of rural universities. It also highlights the positive impact on cultural preservation and economic empowerment within rural communities.

Originality/value: This study examines digital transformation in the context of South African rural universities, offering valuable insights into how digital technologies can be leveraged to promote sustainability. Focusing on rural communities' unique challenges and opportunities, the research advocates for a transformative approach that enhances education, empowers communities and contributes to sustainable higher education in South Africa and beyond.