Prof Thierry Luescher
Adjunct Professor

Dr Thierry M. Luescher is currently the Strategic Lead for research on equitable education in the Human Sciences Research Council in Cape Town, South Africa. He is also Adjunct Professor at Nelson Mandela University and Research Fellow of the University of the Free State, South Africa. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Studies and a B.A. in History, Politics and African Languages and Literature from the University of Cape Town, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education Studies from the University of the Free State. Thierry was previously Assistant Director for Institutional Research at the University of the Free State and a Senior Lecturer: Higher Education and Extra-ordinary Senior Lecturer: Political Studies at the University of the Western Cape. He has worked at as researcher for the Centre for Higher Education Transformation and was the first researcher of the ministerial Council on Higher Education in South Africa. Thierry is an NRF-rated researcher.

Thierry researches, supervises and publishes on higher education development, higher education policy, the student experience of higher education, student politics, and student affairs in Africa. Current and previous projects include an analysis of African doctoral programmes (for the Alliance of African Research Universities), research on the state of transformation in public universities in South Africa (for the South African Transformation Oversight Committee), research into the South African student movement and #FeesMustFall (funded by the National Research Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), and a study on reimaginations of the future of the African university (funded by the MasterCard Foundation).

His publications include: Universities, Society and Development: African Perspectives of University Community Engagement in Secondary Cities (edited with S. Fongwa, N. Mtawa and J. Mataga, SUN Press, 2022); #FeesMustFall and its Aftermath: Violence, Wellbeing and the Student Movement in South Africa (authored with A. Wilson Fadiji, K. Morwe and others, HSRC Press, 2022); Reflections of South African Student Leaders, 1994-2017 (edited with D. Webbstock and N. Bhengu, African Minds/Council on Higher Education, 2022), Innovation Policy at the Intersection (edited with MBG Cele and others, HSRC Press, 2020), and Student Politics in Africa: Representation and Activism (edited with M. Klemencic and J. Otieno Jowi, African Minds, 2016).

Thierry is a founding editor of the Journal of Student Affairs in Africa (published in collaboration with the University of Pretoria), and the book series African Higher Education Dynamics. He is on the editorial boards of the European Journal of Higher Education, Makerere Journal of Higher Education and the Journal of College Student Development.  He is a member of the International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS) and the Consortium of Higher Education Researchers (CHER). His editorial work ties in closely with his mentorship and postgraduate supervision work. He has received several awards for his mentorship and his collaboration in international research consortia, including the HSRC “Mentor of the Year” Award (2020), the “Excellence in International Research” Award from ACPA College Students International (2021), HSRC “Ubuntu Research Team” Award (2022), and the “Best Practices in International Research and Scholarship” Award from NASPA- Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (2023).


Online Profiles:



Personal website/blog

HSRC website