Welcome to the sixth issue of VitalStats: Public Higher Education, a series that was launched in 2012 with
VitalStats 2010. The series provides recent, audited data on the higher education sector for research and
monitoring purposes in an easy to use format. VitalStats 2015 contains data for the period 2010 to 2015, which
is the latest audited data available for the sector. The Council on Higher Education (CHE) hopes to extend the
publication to the private sector when the necessary audited data are available. The CHE has found that the
series continues to be used extensively by researchers and other interested stakeholders in the sector.
The majority of the data used is collected through the Higher Education Management Information System
(HEMIS), and the CHE appreciates the Department of Higher Education and Training’s (DHET) assistance in
collecting and extracting the data and for providing other necessary financial and research information. Thanks
are also due to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and Statistics South Africa for providing
The publication starts with four sections on student data, namely (i) overall enrolments and completions; (ii)
enrolments and completions by qualification type; (iii) by field of study; and finally (iv) by institutional type.
Student data is followed by a section on data on staffing at public universities. The sixth section of the
publication consists of cohort analysis of students who began their studies in 2010, tracking their respective
throughput rates both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Owing to the different mode of study (distance
and often part-time) at the University of South Africa (UNISA), which impacts on the time it takes a student to
graduate, data for UNISA are considered separately in this section (as indicated on the relevant graphs). The
final section of VitalStats provides financial and research output data. The publication includes a glossary
based on HEMIS definitions.
The CHE is grateful to Charles Sheppard for compiling the necessary cohort studies and for some financial
information, and to Fiona Lewis for data on the full cost of study. The role of the Monitoring and Evaluation
Directorate staff, particularly Michael Gordon, in developing VitalStats is appreciated. The CHE welcomes any
suggestions for additional graphs to be included in future issues, or requests for additional copies of the
publication. Please direct these to Lumka Mayepu at firstname.lastname@example.org. The publication can also be
downloaded from the CHE’s website, Link: VitalStats2015
Welcome to the sixth issue of VitalStats: Public Higher Education, a series that was launched in 2012 with
New Publication: Higher Education Monitor 14: Learning to Teach in Higher Education in South Africa.
The Higher Education Monitor series, as was elaborated in the first issue in 2003, “aims to stimulate research and
the production of knowledge and interpretive frameworks that could contribute to better theorisation of higher
education, more rigorous analysis of higher education complexities and more effective strategies for change and
progress”. It is our hope that this report will do exactly that.
Please follow the link to the access the publication: Higher Education Monitor 14: Learning to Teach in Higher Education in South Africa.
On the 11th April 2017, Monash South Africa hosted a talk titled “Internationalisation of Africa” where they hosted Mr Tony Blair former Prime Minister of Great Britain. Professor Narend Baijnath, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Council on Higher Education and Professor Olive Shisana former CEO of Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) were part of the panel discussion amongst other dignitaries. Mr Tony Blair’s presentation highlighted challenges with regards to internationalisation of Africa. Some of the challenges noted directly concerned with internationalisation were: governance, how does Africa become connected to the world, governance reform and the associated challenges, various ideologies which exist, African problems aren’t unique even though the context might differ, and highlighted the importance of the will to learn from other countries.
He further went on to note the vital aspects needed to assist in positioning Africa internationally and improving its economy. He noted that the Structure to lead is vitally important in any government and leadership matters in enhancing the ability of the structure. He moved on to highlight the importance of Infrastructure which enables a country to be connected. He went to note that the Rule of Law is very vital too. He also highlighted ‘Security’ as absolutely vital, basic security for the ordinary citizen, the poorest.
Education was the last vital aspect he noted, Mr Tony Blair emphasized that education must be top priority for every country. Education can be driven by what other countries have learnt and succeeded in implementing. Learning these days is about being creative and equipping students with the ability to handle the world of tomorrow. He also noted that at the centre of education is technology and technology is very vital in our education and economic systems. Any country also needs a mix of private and public learning institutions and the training of teachers is absolutely vital. He noted that to point these out can be easily done but to change education is one of the hardest things to do and also if a country has one good higher education institution it is on the right path.
In summary, he noted that an effective internationalisation strategy – few countries well governed can have greater impact and sometimes big reforms are needed to give people a sense of hope. Internationalisation is about attitude, mindset and a government which operates well. He also noted that there are basic rules we cannot ignore, that is, macroeconomic policies; rule of law; education; resilient, competent and not corrupt institutions and that reform is the hardest thing to ever implement. Lastly, Mr Tony Blair noted that in order for countries to understand the role of higher education, they need to start by thinking, taking a step back and asking questions. Why are we here? What are we trying to do? Strategise, it’s important to have a strategic plan that allows one to put into plan long term reforms and assemble a team to implement that. Lastly keep politics intact and keep communicating the plans and goals. During the panel discussion Prof Baijnath posed several challenging questions to Mr Blair including how the Continent can become both a beneficiary and a contributor in the global economy, what the role of higher education is in ensuring that African countries are effective international role players, and what the role of international networks is in enhancing global access to higher education in Africa.
In 2012, the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and South African Law Deans Association
(SALDA) extensively deliberated the matter of whether the CHE should undertake a national
review of the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) qualification. Ultimately, an agreement was reached that a
national review of the LLB programme would be appropriate to strengthen the quality of legal
education provision across South African universities. Again, at the LLB Summit held in May 2013,
SALDA and the legal professions (General Bar Council and the Law Society of South Africa)
reiterated the need to conduct a national review of the LLB programme.
Phase 2 QEP focus area, curriculum, has been finalised. Institutional submissions are due 30 November 2017. For submission requirements click here
The CHE-HELTASA teaching awards committee is calling for applications for the National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Awards. In 2017 these awards are supported by a grant from the Department of Higher Education and Training.
Universities are invited to nominate up to three individuals or teaching teams for these prestigious national awards. The awards provide an opportunity to value the reflective, critical and contextually aware teaching that happens across our diverse sector. The importance and significance of these awards is heightened given recent events and the renewed imperative for transformation in higher education in South Africa. A maximum of five awards will be made.
The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, has called on communities and all relevant arms of the state to work together and redouble their efforts to track, prosecute and bring to book the small band of arsonists who are destroying the country’s education infrastructure. Read more
The CHE announces the publication of draft qualification standard statements for the Bachelor Engineering Technology and Advanced Diploma in Engineering for public comment. The expanded CHE mandate includes the development of standards for qualifications in higher education. A qualification standard is a generic statement of the learning domains, the level of achievement and the graduate attributes that characterise, and are required for the award of the qualification. They set out expectations about standards of qualifications in a range of fields of study, describing what gives a discipline its distinctiveness. National qualification standards provide both compliance benchmarks and developmental indicators for qualification types as awarded in particular fields of study or disciplines. The CHE Standards development process is underpinned by the fundamental principles of inclusivity, transparency of process and consensus.
The public comment stage ensures that the broader community has an opportunity to review the content of a standard prior to its approval. Draft standards are made available to the public for comment for 30 days. All comments from the public are considered in detail by the relevant standards development reference group, if necessary, further drafting is undertaken to accommodate responses to the comments. Comments should be sent to Ms Fundiswa Kanise at email@example.com ; subject: (Qualification Name - Comments) by no later than 17 March 2017. For a full list of drafts available for public comment please click here:
Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 CHE-HELTASA National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Awards.
The Council on Higher Education’s Policies on the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Credit Accumulation and Transfer, and assessment in higher education set out to provide higher education institutions with appropriate directives and procedures for the development, application and assessment of the effectiveness of their internal mechanisms in relation to RPL, CAT and assessment.
The Council on Higher Education and the University of Johannesburg Postgraduate School invite you to a panel discussion on Teaching and Learning: The panel discussion will be based on Chapter Four 'Teaching and Learning' of the South African higher education reviewed: Two decades of democracy book.
WHEN : 11 October 2016, 12:00 -13:30
VENUE : Akanya Building, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus, University of Johannesburg.
BOOKINGS : If you would like to participate, please use the following link: http://goo.gl/cBtK5t
DEADLINE : RSVP by 12:00 on Wednesday 5 October
QUERIES : Ms Nadya Bhagwan (Bhagwan.N@che.ac.za)
For more information please see Invite
The Council on Higher Education (CHE) appreciates the opportunity to make a submission to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training (the Commission) on the onerous task of assessing the feasibility of fee-free higher education in South Africa.
Submission & presentation below:
THE 8TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON QUALITY ASSURANCE IN HIGHER EDUCATION IN AFRICA (ICQAHEA) IN NAMIBIA.
SEPTEMBER 20-24, 2016.
Dear Colleagues and Friends in Higher Education,
We are pleased to make the second announcement of the 8th International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa (ICQAHEA) scheduled to hold from 20th to 24th September, 2016 in Namibia. This edition of ICQAHEA promises to be specially enriching as it focuses on"Multidimensions of Innovation in Higher Education in Africa: Towards Enhancing Quality and Accelerating Regional Harmonisation". It will take participants beyond the stereotype in quality assurance to new trajectories and emerging innovations worth applying in the quest to accelerate quality improvement at the institutional, national and regional higher education levels all within the framework of regional harmonisation. There will be six high-class plenary sessions bundled with lively discussions to share good practices; six workshops to learn new skills in quality assurance; meeting of the African Quality Assurance Network (AfriQAN) and a symposium of vice-chancellors, rectors and presidents of African universities on effective management of higher education institutions to improve quality. In the 8th ICQAHEA, we have four events rolled into one! You cannot afford to miss it. The lovely country of Namibia beckons to host us.
Hosts: The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and the University of Namibia (UNAM)
Date: 20 - 24 September 2016 (arrival is Monday, September 19; departure is September 25)
Venue: Manpower Convention Centre, Windhoek, Namibia Deadline for the submission of Expanded Abstracts: July 15.
To register, please visit the conference website at: www.icqahea.org
The Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN) is pleased to announce that the 3rd Southern African Regional Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education will be organised by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and will take place from 19 to 21 October 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. The theme of the conference is:
Quality Promotion and Capacity Development in Higher Education in Southern Africa: Concepts, Perspectives and Practices
Quality assurance professionals from southern Africa are therefore invited to submit paper and/or poster abstracts for consideration with a view towards making presentations at the conference
The Council on Higher Education (CHE), in partnership with the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) is pleased to call on universities to nominate candidates for the annual National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Awards for 2016. The aims of the National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Awards are to acknowledge and reward, at a national level, excellence in teaching and learning in higher education; and to generate a cadre of academics who are able to provide inspiration and leadership in teaching in their disciplines, institutions and regions.
Who are those who participate in Higher Education?
The participation profile in the South African higher education system has changed drastically over the last 20 years, in terms of race, gender and size of the system. This section will show those who entered and exited the public higher education institutions up to 2012. Below are some navigational links to the areas we will be looking at.
Historically the South African government prioritised the higher education opportunities on white students and the other race groups were marginalized. This also influenced the quality and programme offerings of the various institutions, which were also segregated by race. The resultant effect was low participation rates for black South Africans and, more crucially, generally low completion rates among these students.
Post-apartheid, the sector underwent great change, including a sharp increase in black student participation in public higher education within South Africa. All public higher education institutions are now open to all South Africans, irrespective of their race.
Table 1 Headcount enrolments in public higher education by race, 2008 to 2013
Overall the student enrolments increased by 23% from 2008 to 2013. The African student compliment in particular increased by 34% from 515 058 in 2008 to 689 503 in 2013.African enrollments increased from 64% of all enrolments in 2008 to 70% in 2013. The African representation in the South African population was 80% in 2013, which is shows there is basically a 10% proportional difference between the country’s population and the higher education participation of Africans. The graph below shows the proportional representation of students of different races in public higher education and compares it with the racial composition of the South African population. The proportion of African students enrolled is still increasing and is becoming more a reflection of the national population every year. However, the same cannot be said for Coloured students.
Figure 1 Headcount student enrolments in public higher education by race, 2008 to 2013
The racial composition of the South African student population is even more pronounced when participation rates are considered. South Africa’s participation rates or gross enrolment rates are low in general. The participation rate is calculated as the total headcount enrolments as a percentage of the total population between the ages of 20 – 24 years. For 2012, the participation rates by race are reflected in the graph below. Overall for 2012, South Africa has a participation rate of 19%, which is up from 2011 where the participation rate was 17%. It must be remembered that accurate participation rates are highly dependent on the accuracy of the population figures.
The National Plan for Higher Education in 2001 set the target of a 20% participation rate within 10 to 15 years. This has not been achieved.
Figure 2 Participation rates (in public higher education) by race, 2013
The participation rates for Africans and Coloureds are considerably lower than for Whites and Indians. The participation rates for Africans and Coloureds have increased in recent years, but are still relatively low. The difference in participation by race is particularly pronounced at the postgraduate level. More White and Indian students continue to postgraduate study.
Figure 3 Proportional enrolments in public higher education by race and level of study, 2013
Student gender profile
Figure 4 Headcount student enrolments in public higher education by gender, 2003, 2008 and 2013
During the eleven years from 2003 to 2013 the gender profile in South African higher education has changed significantly. In 2013 there were 573 698 women enrolled in the public higher education sector, which constituted 58% of the total headcount enrolment for that year. In the South African population in 2013, women constituted approximately 51% of the population and 50% for the 20-24 old year age group of the population. The imbalance in enrolments in higher education has definitely shifted to favour women, especially compared to the population statistics.
Figure 5 Proportion of men and women enrolling in public higher education by qualification level, 2013
Ninety-three percent of students enrolled in South African public higher education in 2013 were South African. The overall proportion of foreign students in public higher education has averaged 7% from 2002 to 2013, while the number of foreign students increased from 48 197 in 2003 to 73 859 in 2013.
The proportion of foreign students enrolled in postgraduate programmes (15%) is higher than those in undergraduate programmes (6%).
Figure 6 Enrolments in public institutions by nationality and qualification level, 2013
Source: HEMIS 2012
There has been significant change in the proportion of postgraduate foreign students to local students over the last eleven years. The foreign postgraduate students increased from 10% in 2002 to 14% in 2012.
Figure 7 Enrolments of foreign students by qualification level, 2003 and 2013
Source: HEMIS 2012
Most foreign students come from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region (73%). South Africa also attracts a small number of students from the rest of Africa and from other parts of the world. However the proportions of these students remained basically unchanged through the years.
The distribution of foreign students by region is as follows:
Figure 8 Foreign students enrolling in public institutions by region, 2013
The graph below looks at the age profile of the South African public higher education system and particularly at the differences between race groups. A proportional analysis of the race groups show that a larger percentage Africans enroll after 35 years old while white and Indian students are more likely to enroll before 24 years old.
Figure 9 Headcount enrolments by age grouping for 2013
Field of study
We have four major fields of study: business and commerce (B&C), education (Edu), humanities (Hum) and science, engineering and technology (SET). Below we have a graph showing the enrolment patterns by field of study from 2008 to 2013. The lowest number of enrolments has been, and still is, in education. However, this is also the field with the highest growth rate in enrolments (39%) over that period.
Figure 10 Headcount enrolments by major field of study from 2008 to 2013
The graph shows a decrease in the proportion of humanities enrolments to other fields especially in 2011, which from the 2012 enrolments started to increase again. All fields have seen growth in terms of absolute numbers enrolled.
The table below shows headcount enrolments by the 20 Classification of Subject Matter (CESM) categories, disaggregated to the fields of study, from 2011 to 2013.
Table 2 Headcount enrolments by the 20 main fields of study from 2011 to 2013
Overall, between 2011 and 2013 education enrolments increased by only 5%, humanities by 12%, SET by 7%.
The Council on Higher Education (CHE) has observed with deepening concern, the descent of student protests at some of our universities into wanton acts of violence, student intimidation and the destruction of university property.........
Universities have recently been unsettled by student protests that have highlighted the funding challenges facing the higher education sector in its entirety. In response to this, the CHE is organising a colloquium around a discussion document, to consider possible ways to reduce or solve these funding challenges. The event will take place in Pretoria, on 3 December 2015.The CHE invites interested parties to present short, well-developed position papers proposing solutions to the higher education funding crisis, with a particular focus on funding students.
The CHE welcomes the outcome of the engagement between the President and all stakeholders to resolve this issue......
Applications are invited for QEP peer reviewers to provide individual feedback to institutions in 2016. Closing date is 28 October and training is on 30 November and 1 December. ............
The CHE has observed, with mounting concern, the phenomenon of violent..........
The CHE announces the publication of Draft qualification standard statements for MBA, LLB, BSW, Bachelor of Engineering / Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Diploma in Engineering for public comment. The expanded CHE mandate includes the development of standards for qualifications in higher education. A qualification standard is a generic statement of the learning domains, the level of achievement and the graduate attributes that characterise, and are required for the award of the qualification. They set out expectations about standards of qualifications in a range of fields of study, describing what gives a discipline its distinctiveness. National qualification standards provide both compliance benchmarks and developmental indicators for qualification types as awarded in particular fields of study or disciplines.
These draft standard statements are now available for public comment. Any comments should be sent to Ms Fundiswa Kanise at firstname.lastname@example.org ; subject: (Qualification Name - Comments) by no later than 18 September 2015. Comments received will be referred to the relevant standards development reference group for advice to the CHE on possible amendments to the drafts before formal approval by the CHE.
CHE’s statement on unendorsed commercial QA conference
The CHE announces the appointment of a new CEO: Prof Narend Baijnath
The content analysis of institutions’ baseline submissions for the Quality Enhancement Project is available.
Symposium on Enhancing Academics as Teachers 5 June 2015, Protea Edward, Durban
The statement of the CHE on the Xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
The CHE expresses horror and sadness at the death of 147 students
The 1st Siyaphumelela conference on exploring how data analytics can be harnessed to improve student retention, throughput and success in South African Higher Education takes place 14-15 May 2015. For more information go tohttp://siyaphumelela.org.za/?p=160
CHE is pleased to release the latest version of VitalStats 2012. This version includes cohort studies on postgraduate, data on research output and some financial data. VitalStats2012
The Minister of Higher Education and Training has appointed the following members to the CHE Council.
CHE Advice to the Minister of Higher Education on Undergraduate Curriculum Reform
The award winners were announced at the gala dinner at the annual HELTASA conference on 20 November at the University of Free State. For more information go to
Institutions are reminded that applications and submissions for the following Accreditation processes are due on 30 June 2014:
The following presentations that were given at the launch of the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP) on the 27th February 2014 can now be viewed online:
- Dr. Claire Carney - Scotland's Quality Enhancement Themes: a creative approach embracing institutional diversity
- Prof. Frank Coton - Engaging with Enhancement and the Enhancement Themes at the University of Glasgow
- Prof. Diane Grayson - The CHE Quality Enhancement Project
- Prof. A Bawa - Catalysing Institutional Commitment to Student Success
The White Paper for Post-School Education and Training has been published by the Department of Higher Education and Training. To download the document click here: White Paper for Post-School Education and Training.
The latest edition of VitalStats with data up to 2011 has now been published. To download click here VitalStats: Public Higher Education, 2011
It is with sadness and a deep sense of loss that the CHE heard of the passing away of Nelson Mandela the father of our nation. Madiba’s role and the sacrifices he made in securing the freedom and democracy that we enjoy is without parallel. We mourn his death with a sense of relief that he has been spared further suffering. And we celebrate a life in the service of humanity. We extend our deepest condolences to the family.
Hamba Kahle Madiba.
The winners of the HELTASA-CHE National Excellence in Teaching Awards have been announced.
Public comments on "A proposal for undergraduate curriculum reform in South Africa" should be sent to Webbstock.D@che.ac.za by 29 November 2013.
The following draft documents related to the Quality Enhancement Project are now available:
- Process Framework for the Quality Enhancement Project in the Second Period of Quality Assurance
- Quality Enhancement Project: The Draft Process
Request for Proposals by Consultants to Develop an Institutional Audit Framework for Evaluating the Performance of Higher Learning Institutions
Council on Higher Education (CHE) in Lesotho invites proposals from suitably qualified consultants/companies to submit proposals to develop an institutional audit framework for higher education institutions. The objectives of the assignment are as follows:
- Design and develop the draft Institutional Audit Framework for evaluating the performance of public and private higher education institutions;
- Ensure that the framework is consistent with provisions of the Higher Education Act, 2004, CHE’s existing quality assurance tools and guidelines, and is comparable to similar documents developed in the international world;
- Facilitate stakeholder inputs to the audit framework;
- Facilitate external feedback on the audit framework;
- Revise, edit and facilitate formal approval of the framework.
A successful consultant must have relevant qualifications and experience in the area of quality assurance plus sound knowledge of higher education systems, especially those found in the developing world. Specifically, the consultant must have the following competences:
- Broad knowledge and understanding of the issues pertaining to the provision of higher education in the developing world;
- Very good knowledge of a wide range of quality assurance systems, processes, and tools;
- Experience in setting up and using quality assurance systems, processes and tools;
- Experience in evaluating quality assurance systems and processes in higher education contexts;
- Experience in conducting programme accreditation and institutional audits in higher education contexts;
- Excellent communication skills in written and spoken English.
Comprehensive terms of reference for the assignment can be collected from the CHE offices in Maseru at LNDC Development House, Block D, and 6thFloor or downloaded from our website, www.che.ac.ls on or after Monday October 21st 2013. The contact number for the office is (+266) 22313503 and it is available form 0800 – 1700 hours week days (excluding lunch hours: 1245 – 1400).
Technical and financial proposals should be submitted in separate envelopes or files. You can hand deliver your proposals to the CHE offices or send by e-mail to <email@example.com>.
The closing date for submission of proposals is Monday 11th November 2013.
The proposals should be addressed to:
The Chief Executive
Council on Higher Education
P.O. Box 14046
- Avertisement for Development of an Audit Framework
- Terms of Reference for Development of an Audit Framework
The 2012-2013 Annual Report of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) has been published.
Download the annual report here:
The presentations given at the Regional Symposia on Student Success from the 19th to the 23rd of August 2013 are now available as online video clips.
The winners of the CHE-HELTASA (Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa) National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Awards for 2013 have been selected.
They will be announced at the HELTASA conference dinner on 28 November.
On the 17th of September 2013 the CHE held a seminar to discuss the recenty released CHE Task Team report proposing undergraduate reform in South Africa. Some task team members attended the seminar to engage with the issues raised and Professor Ian Scott gave a presentation outlining the proposal. Interested parties are invited to comment on the proposal by 29 November 2013, and comments should be posted to the CHE or emailed to Webbstock.D@che.ac.za.
Download the presentation:
Presentation by Ian Scott at national seminar, 17 September 2013
The task team report: A proposal for undergraduate curriculum reform in South Africa: The case for a flexible curriculum structure has now been released for public comment.
As requested by Minister of Higher Education and Training the CHE has commented on:
View the Government Gazette Vol. 578 Pretoria, 2 August 2013 No. 36721 here: