This article examines the poor quality of academic writing in Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa. It seeks to understand why undergraduate students in this university struggle with academic writing and how the poor quality of their writing skills minimises their chances of completing their degrees and diplomas in record time. It also proposes ways to improve the quality of academic writings in the institution. The article reflects on my professional practices and experiences as a Communication lecturer at CPUT.

It is written against the backdrop of discrepant narratives about why CPUT students cannot write and the increasing pressures on South African universities to transform and “to standardise and systematise the teaching and learning context by introducing quality assurance measures” (Bailey 2008:2). It is also set against the backlash of South African Universities of Technology’s commitment to increase research outputs and throughput rates. The article argues that the poor quality of academic writing in this university can be blamed on students’ literacy backgrounds and attitudes towards academic writing as well as academic staff’s understanding and appreciation of the role of academic writing in higher education.