SOAS University of London

Adam Habib


Adam Habib
Legal & Governance Directorate


Professor Adam Habib
Email address:
0207 898 4029 (press enquiries: 0207 898 413)
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings


Adam Habib is an academic, researcher, activist, administrator, and well-known public intellectual. A Professor of Political Science, Habib has over 30 years of academic, research and administration expertise, spanning five universities and multiple local and international institutions.

Prior to his appointment as Director of SOAS, he was Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa since 2013. Under his leadership, Wits has done incredibly well – research output has increased, it has expanded its footprint in international journals and it has graduated more students than ever before. The university’s finances are stable and it has strong, independent governance structures in place. Habib’s commitment to excellence and transformation has left Wits in a far stronger position, and one of the best universities in Africa at which to study and conduct world-class research.

He joined the University of Johannesburg as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation, Advancement and Library in 2007, during which time he oversaw a doubling of research output, and the dramatic expansion in the training of a new generation of scholars.

He is one of the co-founders of the African Research Universities Alliance, an affiliation of research-intensive universities on the continent.

Habib has published numerous edited books, book chapters and journal articles over the last three decades in the thematic areas of democratisation and its consolidation in South Africa, contemporary social movements, philanthropy, inequality, giving and its impact on poverty alleviation and development, institutional reform, changing identities and their evolution in the post-apartheid era, and South Africa's role in Africa and beyond. He is a well-known public figure in South Africa whose opinions are often sought by the media.

Habib’s academic contributions resulted in his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in addition to serving as a fellow of both the African Academy of Science and the Academy of Science of South Africa. He also serves on the Council of the United Nations University.

Habib holds qualifications in Political Science from three universities, including the University of Natal and Wits. He earned his masters and doctoral qualifications from the Graduate School of the City University of New York.