She has also established herself as a prolific researcher in higher education, participating with distinction in numerous national and international research projects on teaching and learning. She has contributed towards expanding theoretical frameworks in the field of higher education as well as enriching research models used in higher education research. Her research on postgraduate supervision practices and underlying theoretical understandings has contributed towards a better understanding of postgraduate supervisory practices and pedagogies within the South African context.
She was an executive member of the SA Association for Research and Development in Higher Education (SAARDHE) and of the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of SA (HELTASA), and is currently a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF). She has supervised 25 PhD students, published more than 100 articles and chapters in books and serves on the Board of Directors of the Golden Key Honours Society. Professor Hay-Swemmer prides herself on quality and strives for excellence in education.