The study is a critical investigation of social justice concerns in higher education policy in emerging democracies such as South Africa. The study focuses on three initiatives at the University of Pretoria as exemplary projects that address social justice concerns in order to redress the situation in post-apartheid South Africa. These initiatives are the Institute of Women and Gender Studies, IGWS, which attempts to achieve gender equality, eliminate patriarchal tendencies and unleash women‘s potentialities within the University of Pretoria; The Centre for the Study of HIV/AIDS which seeks to eliminate any discriminatory tendencies against University of Pretoria members who are living with HIV/AIDS and contribute meaningfully in reducing the scourge of the pandemic; and The University of Pretoria Foundation Year Programme, UPFY, which attempts to increase the participation rates of the previously disadvantaged in areas of scarce skills such as mathematics and science. The study seeks to share new insights into the limits of grand policy frameworks that promise much by way of social justice but deliver very little in real terms. This policy gap trajectory between intent and practice begins and ends at the University of Pretoria as a case study that provides important lessons for cognate institutions and other social structures. The study is further likely to contribute insights into how higher education can implement programmes so as to purportedly address and redress social injustices and inequalities when in essence; these programmes achieve little more than a public relations objective. The intent of this case study is to illuminate attempts, through various programmes, by higher education to address social justice concerns such as inequality and discrimination, and reflects the inadequacy of such efforts that are not developed within an institution‘s capacity in order to affect the existing institutional culture. In reflecting on the persistent policy challenges and the marginalisation of social justice agenda, the study points to the dominance of the neo-liberal discourse on a global and local scale and its manifestation in higher education in the form of commodification and marketisation. As a result, the study proposes the revival of a radical social justice agenda so as to mainstream social justice concerns in higher education and promote its emancipatory possibilities.