Professor Bawa is the Chief Executive Officer of Universities South Africa. Previous positions include terms as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Knowledge Production and Partnerships) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Principal of the Durban Campus of the same university and Vice-Principal of the Pietermaritzburg Campus. By virtue of his Vice-Chancellorship, Professor Bawa was a member of the Board of Directors of the former Higher Education South Africa (HESA) – now renamed Universities SA – and served as its Chairperson until December 2013.