CHE NEWSLETTER - QUALITY MATTERS Volume 1, Issue No.9 - June 2018

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June, 2018
 
QUALITY MATTERS
Latest news
 

Chief Executive Officer’s Overview

 

 

Prof Narend Baijnath

I would like to welcome all our readers to another edition of Quality Matters, the official newsletter of the Council on Higher Education (CHE).  The newsletter is one of the platforms that the CHE uses to engage its stakeholders and keep them informed about the work and other developments at the CHE.

As always, the Newsletter starts with a look at our Stakeholder Engagement Initiatives. The CHE leverages on these not only to maintain the visibility of the organization nationally and internationally, but to also learn and gain insights into the sector from our stakeholders. The CHE will continue building on it stakeholder engagement initiatives to ensure it remains relevant in the fast changing higher education landscape.  On page 4 we proudly announce the publication and release of the 2016 VitalStats with some changes in the presentation of some of the data, and with some newly added features. 

We also report on the CHE’s involvement with the campaign against bogus colleges which is led by the Department of Higher Education and Training.  The CHE will continue to work with DHET and other quality councils to ensure that students and society are protected from poor quality provision. 

The CHE also continued to participate in national discourses on higher education. In this issue of the newsletter there is a piece on the participation of Dr Genevieve Simpson in a panel discussion on broadening access to higher education in an unequal society. The panel discussion was organised jointly by the Department of Higher Education and Training, and Old Mutual Foundation.   

Readers will also find in this issue of the newsletter information about the visit to the CHE by Hayley Boyes, an official from the British Accreditation Council (BAC), and of a delegation from China; as well as a courtesy call by the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission on University Education in Kenya.    

Most stakeholders know about the CHE because of its programme accreditation function. In this issues of the newsletter, a detailed systematic explanation of the accreditation processes and the reasons they sometimes take long, is provided to the readers. It is hoped that this article will provide answers to the many possible questions that stakeholders may have had regarding programme accreditation. 

Progress on the Quality Enhancement project (QEP) has been a regular feature in all past issues of the newsletter. In current issue, there is reflection on the QEP as the project draws to its conclusion, while at the same time there is a preview of a new cycle of institutional audits that will replace the QEP as the main focus area of work for the Institutional Audits Directorate.   

Readers may recall that the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), a statutory permanent committee of the CHE, is the executive authority over quality matters. This issues of the newsletter, carries an announcement of the appointment of a new HEQC for a three-year term.  Three previous members of the HEQC have been reappointed to this important committee. 

The CHE places a lot of value on professional development and life-long learning. In this regard we congratulate three of our staff members for successful completion of their studies for higher degrees. 

Enjoy reading and do feel free to let us know what you think!!

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: ceo@che.ac.za

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Strategic stakeholder engagement

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

The CHE engages stakeholders to promote the organisation and its work, as well as to develop essential networks within the higher education sector locally and abroad. The Stakeholder Engagement drive is led by the CEO. The following activities took place from the 1st of February 2018 to 23rd of March 2018:

  1. On 13 February 2018, the CEO attended the ANC Joint Study Group on Higher Education and Training meeting in Parliament, Cape Town.
  2. On 14 February 2018, the CEO was invited as a special guest and Keynote Speaker at the Official Opening of the Academic Year at Monash South Africa event where he presented a paper entitled ‘The changing Higher Education environment in South Africa and a new look at the strategic priorities and role of Private Higher Education’.
  3. On 16 February 2018, the CEO attended the State of the Nation Address on invitation by Parliament.
  4. From 17 to 23 February 2018, the CEO and the Chairperson of Council attended the Kresge Foundation, DREAM 2018 Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America.
  5. The CEO participated in the Umalusi Workshop on 27 February 2018 followed by the Umalusi Council meeting on 28 February 2018.
  6. On 3 March 2018, the CEO participated in a one-day event on Free Education in Cape Town where he spoke about the implications of free higher education. The event was organised by Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education, funded by the Bertha Foundation.
  7. On 7 March 2018, the CEO, the Chairperson of Council and the Chairperson of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) met with the Portfolio on Higher Education and Training (PCHET) in Parliament, Cape Town in order to brief the PCHET members on the University of Zululand Special Audit Report.
  8. The CEO participated in the SAQA Board Strategy meeting on 8 March 2018 and the SAQA Board meeting on 9 March 2018.
  9. On 13 March 2018, the CEO attended a workshop on the exploratory implementation of dual-track/cooperative study degrees according to the example Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) in Germany in South Africa. The workshop was held in Stellenbosch.
  10. On 14 March 2018, the CEO attended the QCTO Council Strategic Planning Workshop in Centurion.
  11. On 26 March 2018, the CEO attended the Inauguration of Prof Tshilidzi Marwala as the 2nd Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The inauguration was held at UJ (corner Kingsway and University Road, Auckland Park) Auditorium, Kingsway Campus.
  12. On 11 April 2018, the CEO attended the Workshop on Ethics in Scholarly Publishing. The workshop was organised by the NRF. The CEO gave the closing address.
  13. On 18 April 2018, CHE delegation presented the organisation's 2015-2020 Strategic Plan and the 2018/19 APP to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training in Parliament in Cape Town. The CHE delegation consisting of:
    • Prof T Mosia,
    • Prof S Ripinga,
    • Prof B Thaver,
    • Dr D Parker,
    • Prof N Baijnath, and
    • Mr T Mothusi
  14. From 21 to 22 March 2018, the Director: Accreditation represented the CEO at the Harmonisation of African Higher Education Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA) Fifth Advisory Board Meeting hosted by the Conselho Nacional de Avaliação de Qualidade do Ensino Superior (CNAQ), the National Council for Quality Assessment of Higher Education of Mozambique. The HAQAA Initiative, funded by the European Union in partnership with the African Union, has been established to support the development of a harmonised quality assurance and accreditation system at institutional level, national, regional and Pan-African continental level. The European University Association (EUA) is a partner in HAQAA initiative, which is coordinated by the University of Barcelona (UB) and will run from December 2015 until November 2018. The other consortium partners of the HAQAA initiative are the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the European Association of Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), and the Association of African Universities (AAU).
  15. From 2 to 4 May 2018, the Director: Accreditation represented the Council on Higher Education (CHE) at the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) 11th Biennial Forum 2018 held at Le Meridien Hotel in Mauritius. The Forum was hosted by the Mauritius Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). The 2018 theme was “Quality is in the Eye of the Beholder: Relevance, Credibility and International Visibility”.
  16. On 10 May 2018, a CHE delegation met with the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Ms GNM Pandor in Cape Town to brief the her on the work of the CHE, the challenges confronted by the organisation, possible futures, and to seek an understanding the Minister’s priorities for the future aside from her expectations from the CHE. The CHE delegation comprised of the following members:
    • Prof Themba Mosia (Chairperson),
    • Prof Selby Ripinga (Council Member),
    • Prof Shireen Motala (Council Member),
    • Dr Siphokazi Moeng (Council Member),
    • Mr Cassie Kruger (Council Member), and
    • Prof Narend Baijnath (CEO).
  17. On 18 May 2018 the CEO met with the Vice Chancellor of Stellenbosch University. The meeting was part of strengthening the CHE’s relationship with Higher Education Institutions. The CEO is planning to visit other Universities within the next three months. The specific purpose of meeting with the VC’s of Universities are to engage on quality assurance and related matters, brief the VCs on developments of interest at the CHE, and provide the VCs opportunity to voice any concerns that they might have about the CHE and advice the CHE on institutional or sectoral matters.

The CHE will continue engaging its stakeholders at various levels and on different platforms as a means for strengthening and improving its relationships within and across the borders of South Africa.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Bhengu.N@che.ac.za

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VitalStats 2016 released

Mr Michael Gordon

VitalsStats 2016

Image 1: VitalStats 2016 by CHE

VitalStats 2016 was truly born out of love. After some challenges with funding and then with data, we managed to complete yet another issue of our annual flagship publication, VitalStats.

Look out for the blue themed cover this year. There are a few new graphs included this time around and some interesting figures under the funding section to have a gander at. These include the increase in NSFAS grants awarded to university students.

The cohort section has been done slightly differently this time around. The extended programmes that have always been factored out (with a great deal of meticulous manual filtering) have now been included in the analysis.

Knowing how well VitalStats has been received in the sector; it is our great pleasure to continue bringing such a vital selection of data to researchers and others. We are also pleased to have been able to provide a bit more detail as requested by some users, based on their initial experience of the VitalStats series.

The digital copy of VitalStats 2016 is available on the CHE website for download, you can follow the link to access it: VitalStats 2016 

Further information on matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Gordon.M@che.ac.za

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Ongoing campaign against bogus colleges in South Africa

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu 

Image 2: The Campaign Team from left to right, Mr Ntokozo Bhengu (CHE), Mr Lehlohonolo Mphuthi (DHET), DHET Representative and Dr Shaheeda Isaak (DHET)

Image 2: The Campaign Team from left to right, Mr Ntokozo Bhengu (CHE), Mr Lehlohonolo Mphuthi (DHET),

DHET Representative and Dr Shaheeda Isaak (DHET)

The Bogus College Campaign, driven by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and led by Dr Shaheeda Essack, Director of Private Higher Education, has been running for the past two years. The campaign has been and continues to be supported by the following South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the three Quality Councils: the Council on Higher Education (CHE), Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), and Umalusi. The campaign enjoys a high level of support from the Department as reflected by the presence of the Deputy Minister Mr Buti Manamela during this year’s Johannesburg leg of it.

This year, the campaign embarked on a three-week (18 January 2018 - 10 February 2018) long nationwide drive aimed at enforcing compliance with registration and accreditation requirements by private education providers. The campaign targeted the major cities in different province including Johannesburg in Gauteng; Durban in KwaZulu-Natal;   Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape; Nelspruit in Mpumalanga; Rustenburg in North West; Polokwane in Limpopo; and Bloemfontein in the Free State. The campaign involved impromptu inspections of colleges with support of local law enforcement officials and accompanied by local media houses. The other aspect of the campaign was about creating public awareness about the risks of enrolling to study at such colleges. Information brochures were distributed to members of the general public who also engaged the campaign team on the contents of the brochures.  I was represented the CHE as part of this campaign in Johannesburg, Nelspruit and Bloemfontein, Johannesburg.

It was found during the campaign that whilst some providers are registered and accredited to offer a certain number of programmes, they nevertheless offer other programmes that are not accredited.  In one case, out of 30 programmes advertised on the institution’s brochure, the college had only one programme accredited by a SETA.   The principal and owner of the college was served with a notice to cease offering and advertising the programmes that not accredited, including those for which accreditation had been applied for but had not yet received confirmation of accreditation . The college was also ordered to inform the students about the notice issued and refund the students any money they had paid in tuition fees.

At one institution, students had been registered since 2017 but the institution did not have any accredited programme. It was further found that some institutions had MoUs with other well-established institutions to act as tuition sites for programmes that are accredited for the latter. However, either through genuine lack of understanding, or opportunistically, some institutions did not understand that such MoUs do not give them a licence to offer programmes that are not accredited.

Another key finding was that some institutions which have multiple campuses use one brochure to advertise their programme offerings. This gives potential students a wrong impression that each campus offers the whole range of programmes as reflected in the brochure. In some cases, the names of the programmes displayed in the brochures do not match with those that reflected on the Accreditation letter or certificate. This has a potential of misleading students because they end up studying for something different from what they had initially thought they would be enrolling for based on the incorrect information in the brochures.

On a positive note, all the colleges that were visited as part of the campaigned were able to produce proof of registration as institutions of learning issued by the DHET. In cases where some of the colleges were found wanting with their programme offerings, they were willing to cooperate in getting their houses in order. One important challenge to note is that the regulatory environment for private colleges is fragmented, and there is no well-established formal communication channel for engaging with them.  That explains why some of the colleges clearly did not know the jurisdictions of the SAQA and the QCs in relation to their business.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Bhengu.N@che.ac.za

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Department of Higher Education and Training and Old Mutual Foundation Dialogue session

Dr Genevieve Simpson

On 22 March 2018, Dr Genevieve Simpson represented the CHE at a dialogue session organized by the DHET and Old Mutual. The event took the form of a panel discussion. The theme of discussion was ‘Providing access to quality education in an unequal society’. Mr. Joel Baepi, Director: Governance, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs at Old Mutual, welcomed participants and highlighted the role that business should play in supporting educational institutions. 

                               left to right, Mr Steven Zwane (NSFAS CEO), Honourable Buti Manamela (Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training), Joel Baepi (Old Mutual- standing), Old Mutual representative, Dr Genevieve Simpson (CHE)

Image 3: left to right, Mr Steven Zwane (NSFAS CEO), Honourable Buti Manamela (Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training), Joel Baepi (Old Mutual- standing), Old Mutual representative, Dr Genevieve Simpson (CHE)

The Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr. Buti Manamela, gave the keynote address. He discussed the gains made in terms of the new DHET’s bursary scheme for students at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges coming from households earning less than R350 000 per annum. He explained how the bursary would go a long way towards reducing the financial pressure on these households. He also referred to the recommendations made by the Heher Commission, which investigated the feasibility of free higher education, and outlined the Commission’s proposals for increasing subsidies to higher education institutions, improving student accommodation, and developing the TVET sector.

The Deputy Minister’s address was followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Mr. Ayabonga Cawe, Mr Cawe is a radio talk show host for Power FM, he presents the ‘Power Business’  show. Other panel members were Mr Russel Davis (Director: Rural Education Access Programme - REAP); Mr Khaya Sithole (Secretary General: ABASA); Mr Simphiwe Somdyala (General Manager: Corporate Affairs, Old Mutual) Mr Yonke Twani (President: South African Further Education and Training Student Association - SAFETSA) and Mr Steven Zwane (CEO: National Student Financial Aid Scheme – NFSAS).

The panel welcomed the new bursary scheme but highlighted other challenges facing the sector. These included the need for sustainable funding for universities and colleges; the need to develop TVET colleges and the qualifications they offer; low-throughout across all higher education institutions; and inequality in funding (especially private funding) for different institutions. In terms of suggesting where the private sector can work with the Department and higher education and training institutions, it was emphasised that rather than only providing financial support, closer working relationships should be developed to support the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) sector, especially the TVET colleges. It was also suggested that bursaries should still be offered, particularly for postgraduate students, and the missing-middle students not covered by the bursary scheme. Funding for infrastructure, knowledge generation and technology would also support the development of institutions.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Simpson.G@che.ac.za

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Visit by an official from the British Accreditation Council (BAC)

Ms Robin Naude

 left to right, Ms Robin Naude (CHE), Mr Denver Grigg (CHE), Prof Kethamonie Naidoo (CHE), Ms Heyley Boyes (BAC), Dr Louie Swanepoel and Dr Thabile Mtombeni

Image 4: left to right, Ms Robin Naude (CHE), Mr Denver Grigg (CHE), Prof Kethamonie Naidoo (CHE),

Ms Heyley Boyes (BAC), Dr Louie Swanepoel and Dr Thabile Mtombeni.

Hayley Boyes from the British Accreditation Council (BAC) visited the Accreditation Directorate of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) on 6th March 2018.  The purpose of the visit was to share knowledge about the BAC and its processes that lead to the accreditation of institutions.  Prof Kethamonie Naidoo, Dr Louie Swanepoel, Mr Denver Grigg, Dr Thabile Mtombeni and Mrs Robin Naude from the Accreditation Directorate met with the visiting official from the BAC.

The BAC was established as a joint initiative between the British Council and the Department of Education in 1984 and is a registered charity and ‘not for profit’ organization.  The BAC aims to provide globally respected accreditation to Independent Further and Higher Education providers.  In order to apply for BAC accreditation the providers must firstly demonstrate that they are accredited by the national accrediting authority of the country in which the institution is offering.  The benefits to providers are marketing of their institutions internationally.

The CHE team enjoyed the sharing of information with the official from the BAC.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Naude.R@che.ac.za

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To accredit or to not accredit: Is this the only question? 

Dr Louie Swanepoel 

Providers might have the view that the Programme Accreditation Directorate is only responsible for overseeing the accreditation process, but it has quite a number of other responsibilities as reflected in Figure 1 below.

                                                  Programme Accreditation Directorate responsibilities

Figure 1: Programme Accreditation Directorate responsibilities

The accreditation of programmes by the HEQC is one of the core functions of the CHE that has potentially a high impact on the quality of educational provisioning by higher education institutions (HEIs). This is the focus of this article.

Currently the Accreditation Directorate has seven permanent staff members, and a few staff members, mainly at an administrative level, are on contracts. The operations are dependent on the system, workflow processes, and the availability of staff members in the Directorate and peer evaluators.

Historically, prior to the HEQF and the HEQSF, HEIs offered an array of qualification types of varying technical specifications. The HEQSF has provided a framework for the standardisation of qualifications. From 1 January 2020, institutions will not be permitted to enrol new students into any qualification type that is not aligned to the qualification specifications as prescribed in the HEQSF. All programmes leading to qualifications on the HEQSF must meet the HEQC’s Criteria for Programme Accreditation. In addition, they need to meet the Minimum Standards of the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) that will register the qualification on the NQF and assign it a SAQA identification number. An institution may not enrol students into a programme that has not been registered by both SAQA and the DHET.

After the finalisation of the HEQSF alignment process and the announcement by the Minister of Higher Education and Training that the last date for allowing new entrants to the non-aligned HEQSF programmes will be 31 December 2019, the Directorate experienced a huge increase in programme accreditation applications.

Many institutions are submitting new aligned programmes to replace the programmes that are not aligned to the HEQSF and are in the process of being taught out. There were approximately 3500 programmes that could not be aligned to the HEQSF for one reason or another, and were approved to be taught out. Furthermore, there are revised qualifications by professional bodies such as for nursing and teaching and an increase in the number of private providers that submit programmes for accreditation. The graph shown in Figure 2 indicates the increase in submissions for programme accreditation over the past few years.

                                    Number of new applications submitted per year

Please keep in mind that the 2017 figures are not final at this stage as there are still Accreditation Committee meetings scheduled for the end of March 2018. 

Between 2005 and 2010 the Directorate used to receive less than 200 applications per year. From 2013 until 2017 the number of applications that were submitted increased to between 400 and 500 submissions per year. These numbers only refer to new applications submitted for accreditation.

It is important to note that each new application might not be accredited when first tabled. The outcome might lead to a deferral, accredited with conditions or not accredited. This may result in delays in finalizing the accreditation process. If such delays are factored in, it could take up to 18 months from the date of submission to the date on which the final outcome (accredited or not accredited) is arrived at. 

Table 1 gives an indication of the number of applications submitted per year and served at an HEQC meeting for a recommendation:

                                  Number of applications submitted per year and per HEQC

If all the applications meant to be processed in a particular year could not be processed in that specific year, they are carried over to the next year, resulting in backlogs of applications to be processed every year.

From Table 1, it is important to note that although 531 new applications were submitted in 2017, further proceedings (continuation of the initial application) were also processed:

  • Conditions – 240
  • Deferred applications – 62
  • Representations - 86

Out of the total 919 proceedings in 2017, 701 programmes served at an HEQC meeting.

It is common for institutions to complain about the length of time it takes to process applications from the initial date of submission. However, these complaints are informed by the fact that they do not take into account the time taken for resubmission related to deferrals, representations or submission of prior to commencement conditions. Every programme application goes through a new cycle when a resubmission is made.

Table 2 below shows the average time (in months) it takes to process:

  • A new application (application for programme accreditation) from submission date until it serves at an Accreditation Committee (AC) meeting;
  • Conditional proceedings from uploading of conditions response until it is noted at an AC meeting;
  • Deferral proceedings from upload of response to deferral until it serves at an AC meeting; and
  • Representations from upload of response until it serves at an AC meeting.

                  Average Time Periods for Processing of Accreditation_Related Application

It is important to note that the process time for all proceedings in general in 2017 is 5.2 months. The processing time for conditions has come down as a new process is currently followed where the outcome of the evaluation of compliance to the conditions are signed off by the CEO of the CHE and only serves at an Accreditation Committee and HEQC meeting for noting.

The following paragraphs explain the whole accreditation process from payment until the application serves at an Accreditation and HEQC meeting.

Accreditation by the HEQC is based on a system of peer and expert review, in the context of qualification standards and accreditation criteria for programmes, which ensures transparent, credible and consistent decision-making on the quality of programmes and institutional capacity.

All applications or proceedings submitted must go through a screening and check listing process. During this process the completeness of the application is validated.  The following are inter alia checked:

  • Completeness of application
  • Alignment with the HEQSF in terms of the title of the programme, the levels and credits
  • PQM document attached (in the case of public universities) as well as the time when the programme was approved on the PQM. If the PQM confirmation letter is older than 18 months, the application is sent back to the provider for an updated PQM.
  • If a professional body endorsement is required– an approval or endorsement letter should be attached.
  • The SAQA form should be attached and must be for the programme submitted. Currently there is a request from SAQA that the Directorate should also evaluate the information on the SAQA form to indicate if all relevant information is submitted.
  • All requested documentation should be attached and must be without any track changes and must be on a letterhead of the institution.
  • The module outcomes and module outline (curriculum) with the exit level outcomes and assessment criteria must be attached.

If any of the required documentation is not attached or if any information is missing, the application is sent back to the institution for an update. It is very important to note that the Directorate has no control over the time it will take the institution to resubmit their application. Although the original submission date will still be indicated on the system, there might be time lapse of sometimes a year when providers will resubmit.

The Directorate implements a peer driven evaluation process. Subject experts (a senior academic within the discipline) are appointed and contracted to do the evaluation.  These experts are trained on the accreditation framework and criteria as well as the evaluation process.  They are usually allowed a two or three week turn-around on the submission of the evaluation report. If the report is not of sufficient quality, the Directorate will send it back and ask for refinement.

During the past two years, the Directorate received applications in scarce skills areas. This resulted in the Directorate having to identify possible evaluators, and train them before the evaluation can be done. These areas include amongst others:

  • Nursing and other medical and health programmes
  • Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Information technology
  • Interactive Entertainment and gaming
  • Performing arts
  • Health and Skincare Sciences
  • Maritime
  • Fashion and Retail

The staff members in the Directorate are very committed to process all applications received within a specific timeframe and to play a major role to ensure that each student is afforded the opportunity for a quality learning experience.  This starts with offering a quality programme that is accredited by the HEQC, registered by SAQA on the NQF and registered by the DHET.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Swanepoel.L@che.ac.za

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Rolling up the Quality Enhancement Project and a Glimpse into the Future

Dr Luke Mlilo

Currently the Institutional Audits Directorate is in the process of rolling up the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP). It is coming to an end after it started in 2014. 26 public universities and 22 private higher education institutions have already made their submissions. While this marks an end to their direct engagement with the QEP as such, it is the beginning of three major QEP-related projects for the Directorate. There has been an acknowledgment that the QEP could not just finish off in mid-air. It has to be rounded off appropriately, and there has to be some concrete benefit for the higher education institutions arising from their having participated in the QEP.

The first big QEP-related project was the writing up of the QEP Phase 1 Synthesis Document. The Directorate will now begin to actively engage with peer academics to assist with all the complex editorial and graphics work, in order to prepare the document for publication. The QEP Phase 1 Synthesis Document will then be made available to the entire higher education sector as a resource for the enhancement of their teaching and learning in a way that ensures student success.

The second QEP-related project that the Institutional Audits Directorate is currently busy with is the development of the Code of Good Practice for Enhancing Student Success. It may be recalled that during the first phase of the QEP there were four main focus areas that higher education institutions reported on:

  • Enhancing academics as teachers;
  • Enhancing student support and development;
  • Enhancing the learning environment; and
  • Enhancing course and programme enrolment management.

Four peer academics were contracted to draw out the good or best practices in each, based on submissions from the institutions. These are practices that would be beneficial and recommended to institutions to emulate or to measure themselves against.

The best practices in each of the focus areas have now been identified, and the Institutional Audits Directorate is currently in the process of compiling them into one document which will also be published for the benefit of the higher education sector as a whole.

The third major QEP-related project that the Institutional Audits Directorate recently embarked on is the QEP Phase 2 Baseline Report, which focuses on institutions’ submissions on curriculum development. The eventual publication of this report will effectively bring to an end the Quality Enhancement Project that the Institutional Audits Directorate – and indeed the CHE as a whole – has been engaged with since 2014.

But then, of course, the question arises: What next after the QEP?

The need for the CHE to re-introduce institutional quality audits in some form has been pointed out by a number of stakeholders in the higher education sector. In order for this to be done optimally, the ‘new’ audits will have to be framed and conducted in an integrated way with the other quality functions of the CHE, namely Programme Accreditation, National Standards and Reviews, as well as Monitoring and Evaluation. Currently, work on the conceptualisation and development of an integrated approach to quality assurance by the CHE is under way. It is in this overarching context that the current work by the Institutional Audits Directorate, of developing a new institutional audits framework, is being undertaken.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Mlilo.L@che.ac.za

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Chinese delegation visit to the CHE

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

Standing Left to right -: Mr ZHAI Jinming, Director: Department of Academic Exchange and Educational Research, China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), Dr Luke Mlilo (Acting CHE Director: Institutional Audits), Dr Denyse Webbstock (CHE Director: Monitoring & Evaluation), Mr Wang Daoyu: First Secretary (Education), Chinese Embassy and Ms. ZHANG Yuanmeng, Programme Officer: Division of Cross-Border Education Partnership & Management, Department of International Cooperation & Exchanges, Ministry of Education.  Sitting: Left to right -: Mr Xu Baojie (Vice President: Beijing Information Science and Technology), Mr Feng Yiguo (Deputy Director-General for Education Supervision: Education Commission of the Municipality of Beijing (Head of Delegation), Prof Narend Baijnath (CHE: CEO), Prof Kethamonie Naidoo (CHE Director: Programme Accreditation), and Ms Olivia Mokgatle (CHE Director: National Standards & Reviews).

Image 5: Standing Left to right -: Mr ZHAI Jinming, Director: Department of Academic Exchange and Educational Research, China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), Dr Luke Mlilo (Acting CHE Director: Institutional Audits), Dr Denyse Webbstock (CHE Director: Monitoring & Evaluation), Mr Wang Daoyu: First Secretary (Education), Chinese Embassy and Ms. ZHANG Yuanmeng, Programme Officer: Division of Cross-Border Education Partnership & Management, Department of International Cooperation & Exchanges, Ministry of Education.

Sitting: Left to right -: Mr Xu Baojie (Vice President: Beijing Information Science and Technology), Mr Feng Yiguo (Deputy Director-General for Education Supervision: Education Commission of the Municipality of Beijing (Head of Delegation), Prof Narend Baijnath (CHE: CEO), Prof Kethamonie Naidoo (CHE Director: Programme Accreditation), and Ms Olivia Mokgatle (CHE Director: National Standards & Reviews).  

On the 7th May 2018 the CHE hosted a delegation from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The purpose of the visit by the delegation was to be introduced to the work of the CHE with a hope of establishing a working relationship between China and South Africa on a possibility of offering international qualifications. The delegation comprised representatives from various education sectors and government representatives led by China’s Ministry of Education accompanied by the First Secretary of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in South Africa. They were warmly welcomed to the CHE by Professor Narend Baijnath who also briefed them on the mandate and diverse work of the CHE. The CHE Directors present at the meeting provided brief outlines of the work in their respective Directorates

The Chinese delegation then provided interesting insights into their own priorities. They explained that the PRC’s Ministry of Education started to explore accreditation processes and systems of various countries as an industry guide for internationalisation of qualifications in 2010. They also explained that two years ago they started piloting international programmes and that this area has become an important pillar of the PRC’s education system. They are also working with some quality agencies from Australia and the United Kingdom. They continuously improve their systems and processes in the area of quality assurance and they have a keen interest in the work of the CHE. They are of the view that South Africa is advanced in terms of quality assurance systems and processes which they can learn from.

The delegation emphasized the importance of doubling efforts towards internationalisation of qualifications between countries, and ensuring that quality does not get compromised in the process. They also suggested that opportunities for joint accreditation of programmes between China and South Africa should be explored. The delegation felt that China and South Africa should use the same lens and standards to maintain qualification quality. Finally, all participants agreed that internationalisation should be with the view of protecting and advancing the interests of students.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Bhengu.N@che.ac.za

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Courtesy call to the CHE by the CEO of the Commission for University Education in Kenya

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

Professor Mwenda Ntarangwi, Chief Executive Officer of the Commission for University Education in Kenya, the equivalent of the CHE in Kenya, paid a courtesy call to the CHE whilst on official visit in the country. He was received at the CHE by Dr Amani Saidi (Director: Quality Assurance & Promotion Coordination).  Prof Ntarangwi and Dr Saidi had discussions mainly about higher education policies and quality promotion matters in eastern and southern Africa. Prof Ntarangwi also shared information about the conference of the African Network of Internationalisation of Education (ANIE) which is being organised to take place in Nairobi from 3rd to 5th October 2018.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Bhengu.N@che.ac.za

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Appointment of a new Higher Education Quality Committee

Mr Eric Netshidzati 

The Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) is a statutory permanent committee of the CHE established in terms of the Higher Education Act of 1997, as amended. The committee has executive authority over quality matters in higher education.

The CHE is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC). The new HEQC has seven members who have been appointed to the committee for the first time. These are:    

  1. Prof Nicolaas Johannes (Niek) Grové
  2. Prof Patrick Ngulube
  3. Prof Angina Parekh
  4. Dr Jeffrey Mabelebele
  5. Prof Robert John Balfour
  6. Prof Lesley Lionel Leonard le Grange
  7. Dr Siphokazi (Muki) Moeng (Council representative on the HEQC) 

Three members who served previously on the HEQC were also reappointed to serve for a new term. 

These are:

  1. Prof Wendy Kilfoil
  2. Dr Penny Law
  3. Dr Caroline Selepe 

The term of office of the new HEQC runs from 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2021. 

An orientation workshop for the members of the HEQC took place on 6 June 2018 at the CHE Offices. 

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Netshidzati.E@che.ac.za

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Workshop on the ethics of scholarly publishing

Dr Genevieve Simpson

   CHE staff members from left to right Ms Selina Mokatsane, Dr Phumzile Dlamini, Dr Genevieve Simpson and Dr Denyse Webbstock.

Image 6: CHE staff members from left to right Ms Selina Mokatsane,

Dr Phumzile Dlamini, Dr Genevieve Simpson and Dr Denyse Webbstock. 

In recent years, the issue of scholarly research ethics has gained prominence as a number of unethical practices have been identified, and concern has been raised over a possible increase in such practices. As a result, a workshop to discuss this matter was jointly organised by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), National Research Foundation (NRF), Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), Universities South Africa (USAf) and Council on Higher Education (CHE). It took place on 11 April 2018. 

The CEO of the NRF, Dr Molapo Qhobela, opened the workshop by highlighting the importance of ethics and integrity in guiding the choices we make, including choices on where to publish. The Deputy CEO, Dr Gansen Pillay, explained how the NRF became aware of new trends in the publishing records of academics applying for NR rating, including academics sitting on multiple editorial boards, and publishing in these same journals. In light of this, he called for measures to protect the quality of our system, and for coordinated efforts between higher education entities.

The workshop went on to interrogate some of these practices, with Professor Johan Mouton from the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at Stellenbosch University, describing research that the centre had undertaken for ASSAf and the DHET. He explained that unethical publication practices, such as plagiarism or questionable authorship and data manipulation, have a long history, but that there has been an increase in such practices in recent years. There has also been the emergence of ‘predatory journals’. CREST conducted research into publishing trends, and identified specific practices which could be identified as predatory or questionable. Mouton highlighted that one of the key challenges is identifying these journals.

Mr Mahlubi Mabizela (DHET: Chief Director University Policy and Development) went on to discuss the DHET’s research output policy, and how the incentives it offered could lead to certain behaviours. He highlighted the need for quality and ethics procedures at institutional level. Professor Valerie Corfield (NRF Rating panel) reflected on the various challenges faced when assessing applications for rating, and explained how panels have developed their lists of questionable journals, but that problems persist. The CEO of USAf, Professor Ahmed Bawa, concluded the session by calling on participants to consider the system as a whole, to question what type of system creates unethical publishing, and to consider what universities should look like in the future. He referred to research incentives steering the system, and to the achievements and challenges in this regard. During the audience discussion, the scale of the problem was highlighted. It was noted that it affects less than 3% of research output, and that most is of quality, with a high percentage in highly cited journals. However, the problem appeared to be on the rise. The need for inter-related criteria when assessing journals was raised, as was the need for coordinated action.

Susan Veldsman from ASSAf went on to discuss ASSAf’s initiatives in supporting scholarly publishing and editing. She summarised the workshop’s proposals, such as improvements to the research output policy; a central list of questionable journals; training programmes; coordination between agencies; and relevant promotion systems and criteria.

In conclusion, Dr Skeef from the NRF, suggested that a Working Group be established, consisting of members of the five entities represented, to find a coordinated, national way of dealing with unethical scholarly publishing. The CHE’s CEO, Professor Narend Baijnath, closed the workshop. He discussed the importance of quality, and the link between quality research, quality programmes and quality institutions. The effect of unethical scholarly publishing on institutional reputations was highlighted, together with the wider effect on the reputation of South Africa’s higher education sector.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Simpson.G@che.ac.za

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Staff matters

Ms Vuyo Matsam

The CHE welcomed two new interns (Ms Selina Mokatsane and Ms Chwayita Finiza) who both started their internship programmes on 1st April 2018. They are both fully funded by the NRF. The CHE is hosting them for a period on 12 months from 01 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. Ms Mokatsane joined the Quality Assurance and Promotion Coordination (QAPC) team headed by Dr Amani Saidi, and Ms Finiza joined the Programme Accreditation team headed by Prof Kethamonie Naidoo.

The CHE congratulates Dr Thabile Mtombeni (Manager in Programme Accreditation) for obtained her PhD from Rhodes University. Also congratulated are Ms Naledi Phahlamohlaka and Mr Michael Gordon for completing their Masters Degrees. Ms Phahlamohlaka completed her Master’s in Education in Assessment and Quality Assurance in Education and Training at the University of Pretoria. Mr Gordon completed his Masters of Philosophy in Informatics also at the University of Pretoria.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Matsam.V@che.ac.za

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