On the 2nd of February 2017, the Council on Higher Education launched the National Reviews of Doctoral Studies, it held its first ‘Stakeholder Consultative Forum’ at the National Research Foundation (NRF) in Pretoria. The proposal for the national review of doctoral studies arises out of on-going engagement between the Council on Higher Education (CHE) as a quality assurance body and the National Research Foundation (NRF), as the funding agency for research and postdoctoral studies in South Africa. More details will follow as the review progresses.
In fulfilling its mandate of Human Capital Development (HCD), the NRF has several funding instruments that support the doctoral degree. However, in making these investments, the NRF needs to be assured that doctoral qualifications offered by South African public universities meet national and international quality standards for Doctoral degrees. The NRF proposed that the CHE undertake a national review of Doctoral programmes offered by South African universities. The NRF suggested that, while there was a need to increase the number of Doctoral candidates and graduates nationally, the emphasis ought to be placed primarily on quality assurance at this level of post-graduate study.
The quality of the Doctoral qualification is of critical importance, not only to the NRF and the CHE, but also to the public, the institutions offering Doctoral programmes, and their students. Quality has an impact in a number of ways: on international comparability, competitiveness and mobility; on the preparation of future researchers and their likely research output; and on national capacity to respond appropriately and innovatively to the various demands of globalisation, localisation and transformation. “A national standard for Doctoral qualifications would be used by higher education institutions to inform and guide their delivery and quality assurance of Doctoral programmes, and by students and the public alike as a threshold against which each programme will be evaluated” added Prof Narend Baijnath, CEO of the Council on Higher Education.
For more information contact CHE’s National Standards and Reviews Directorate.