Universities and private higher education institutions are engaged in offering short courses that do not lead to qualifications or part qualifications on the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF). These courses serve different developmental purposes to the participants. To the institutions themselves, the offering of such short courses provides an avenue for community or societal engagement and income generation. The income generation imperative, it would appear, is in ascendancy, given the resource constrained environment in which institutions have to operate.
As institutions are being called upon to meet the rapidly increasing demand for short courses, this has impelled the need for a guide that sets and defines minimum quality requirements for short courses. This guide is intended to assist institutions to put the necessary quality management mechanisms in place in order to ensure that the short courses they develop and offer are of value to the participants, their sponsors and other relevant stakeholders. In addition to setting minimum quality requirements, the guide also presents the key principles and good practices associated with each minimum requirement; and these articulate what needs to be done at institutional level in order to ensure that the minimum requirements are met. The principles and practices in the guide provide a basis for some degree of standardization across the sector. This, in turn, could lead institutions to recognize each other’s short courses when considering applications for access or advanced standing through the route of recognition of prior learning (RPL). This clearly would be a positive development which will serve to reinforce the aspiration towards an integrated higher education system.