This chapter presents a case, based on performance patterns in South Africa, for recognising that the fundamental framework of an undergraduate curriculum – including its structural parameters and underlying assumptions about prior learning – is an element of curriculum design that critically affects who benefi ts from higher education. In a range of systems, these curriculum ‘fundamentals’ are seldom seen as a variable in the educational process, yet can have a major impact on access and success for different student groups. This applies particularly in contexts of high levels of educational disadvantage and inequality. While the case study focuses on South Africa, it is argued that the challenge of responding systemically to a very diverse student intake, as is urgently required for development, will rapidly spread to other developing countries as well.