The research focus is the transformation of higher education in South Africa to meet the challenges of poverty reduction, economic development and social transformation in the 21st century. Specifically, the lens of professionalism and professional education in universities has been identified as a measure for evaluating the barriers, bridges, negotiations and interpretations of pro-poor transformations. The project aims are: (i) To investigate the equity trajectory of higher education institutions and their role as ‘engines of reform’, using the lens of discourses of development and professional education; and (ii) to make a contribution towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) by developing a conceptual and practical application of human development and well being through professional education and graduate professionals. The Western Cape is the case study site because it is home to four South African universities, each of which has a different historical genesis. One professional site in each university will be chosen and documentary, statistical, survey and interview data collected. A research working group at each university will advise on the generation and refinement of metrics constituted by pro-poor dimensions and specific indicators to evaluate University transformation and professional education in relation to the MDGs and poverty reduction.