This communiqué is the third of a series that aims to inform the South African higher education community of steps being taken to prepare the higher education system for the full implementation of the Higher Education Qualifications Framework (HEQF). The communiqué deals with interim measures relating to the processing of applications for new programmes and the renaming of existing programmes.
The HEQF requires that a new programme or qualification must conform to the requirements of this Framework from the date of implementation, 1 January 2009. Institutions must ensure that new programmes scheduled to commence from 2009 meet these requirements. The approval and accreditation of new programmes, and the registration of new qualifications, will depend on their meeting the requirements of the HEQF.
With regard to existing programmes and qualifications, the HEQF specifies that they must conform over time with the requirements of this policy, by a date to be determined by the Minister by notice in the Government Gazette. This date has not yet been determined. As indicated in the joint communiqué no. 2, "the importance of maintaining consistency and coherence in the higher education system is of such importance that this date is likely to be at least 4 to 5 years from [November 2008]." There is, therefore, no immediate need for institutions to re-align existing programmes to conform to the HEQF. Institutions will not, however, be prevented from doing so, as and when they are in a position to submit applications for the renaming of programmes, in terms of the provisions set out below.
This communiqué outlines the procedures and guidelines for academic programme applications which the Department of Higher Education and Training (DoHET) and the Council on Higher Education (CHE) will use during 2009 and 2010. These interim procedures and guidelines will be reviewed by the DoHET and the CHE during 2010. The document deals with:
- the DoHET's initial approval of proposed new academic programmes submitted by public institutions and with the subsequent accreditation of programmes by the CHE;
- the accreditation of proposed new programmes submitted by private institutions to the CHE; and
- the renaming of existing programmes offered by public and private institutions.
Standard setting processes are not discussed.