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CHE > Media and Publications > Che Newsletters > CHE NEWSLETTER – QUALITY MATTERS 4th Edition – October 2016
November, 2016
Latest news

From the CEO's desk

I am delighted that the CHE is able to share another electronic newsletter with our valued stakeholders. The past four months since the last issue of the CHE newsletter was distributed to stakeholders have been enormously busy for us at the CHE. This specific issue of the newsletter highlights some of the key projects and activities that we have been busy with. We hosted the 3rd Southern African Regional Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education and the 1st General Assembly of the Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN) during October to wide acclaim. The hosting of these important regional events has clearly demonstrated the CHE’s commitment to working across geographical boundaries in raising the standards and rigour of quality assurance systems to the ultimate benefit of the societies and the regional community we serve. We will therefore continue to play a prominent role in the efforts to harmonise quality assurance practices across Southern Africa in order to facilitate the mobility of students, academics and researchers in the region. Two articles in this issue of the newsletter provide more information about these events. The CHE also participated in the 8th International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa (ICQAHEA) in Namibia, and a brief report about this conference appears in this newsletter. The convening of Quality Assurance (QA) fora for key stakeholder groups such as QA Directors/Managers/Coordinators at public universities, private higher education institutions and professional councils continued to be key quality promotion projects of the CHE. In August, the CHE convened two hugely successful QA fora for public universities and private higher education institutions, respectively. An article in this issue of the newsletter illuminates these two events further. Another key quality promotion project is the National Excellence in teaching and Learning Awards, which is run in collaboration with the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA). The processes for selecting the winners for the 2016 Awards has been completed and those interested in knowing who these winners are will find the information in this issue of the newsletter. The Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate produces, on annual basis, a resource book on important trends in key quantitative indicators on the performance of the higher education system. Going under the title VitalStats, this resource book provides essential reference material for monitoring the effectiveness of policies that the government has put in place, and also baseline information for planning the future course of the system. An article in this issue provides glimpses into the key contents of the 2014 VitalStats which is in press and due to come out in print shortly. The newsletter also has information about two new CHE publications that have come out during the last two months. One is a document on the CHE policies on recognition of prior learning (RPL), credit accumulation and transfer (CAT) and assessment. The second one is a good practice guide on the quality management of short courses offered outside of the HEQSF. Both of these publications address issues of critical importance to the sector, and I urge stakeholders to familiarise themselves with their contents. The newsletter also carries an up-date on the quality enhancement project (QEP); and some highlights on DHET’s public awareness campaign against unregistered private colleges, which the CHE took part in. In spite of the pressures and demands, it is not all work and no play at the CHE. To this end, on 30 September 2016 the CHE took a break to celebrate our diverse heritage. Stakeholders will no doubt enjoy reading about this celebration, illuminated by some lovely pictures taken at the occasion. Do enjoy the reading. We invite frank feedback on what you find interesting, what you find uninspiring, and what else you would like to see in the newsletter.

Prof. Narend Baijnath Chief Executive Officer

Harmonising and Mobilising SADC Higher Educationists: CHE hosts the 3rd Southern African Regional Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education

The Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN) held its 3rd Regional Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education from the 19th to 20th of October, 2016 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria. The conference which was hosted by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and part-sponsored by the National Research Foundation (NRF) was attended by 120 representatives from a range of quality assurance bodies and higher education institutions from 12 African countries. The aim of the conference was to provide a forum where quality assurance professionals and researchers from the region could showcase and share their experiences and research pertaining to the challenges and successes of promoting quality and developing the relevant capacity in their respective countries and/or institutions. The conference gave quality assurance practitioners an opportunity to share their innovations, achievements and expertise under eight sub-themes which included: quality promotion and qualification frameworks; quality promotion and transformation; emerging approaches in quality promotion; data, research and planning for quality; institutional level quality teaching and learning; quality promotion processes and systems; capacity development and quality promotion at national and regional levels; and needs and gaps in quality promotion and capacity development. It was officially opened by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Honourable Mr Mduduzi Manana and chaired by the CEO of the CHE Prof N. Baijnath. Some of the dignitaries in attendance included the Chairperson of the CHE, Prof T. Mosia; and the DDG for University Education in the Department of Higher Education and Training, Dr. D. Parker. Keynote addresses were delivered by the former Secretary General of the Association of African Universities and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Mauritius, Prof G. Mohamedbhai; the Immediate Past President of the East African Higher Education Quality Assurance Network, Dr T. Khamis; the CEO of the South African Qualifications Authority, Mr J. Samuels; former Secretary General of the Association of African Universities and former Vice Chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria, Prof. O. Jegede; the CEO of the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA), Ms P. Kotecha; and the Executive Secretary of National Council for Tertiary Education, Prof M. Salifu. In total the conference was privileged to have 45 presenters in the plenary and parallel paper presentation sessions. The theme of the conference was: Quality Promotion and Capacity Development in Higher Education in Southern Africa: Concepts, Perspectives and Practices. Overall, the conference was a resounding success and the positive feedback received from delegates is a clear indication of a sterling job done by the local organising committee led by Dr Saidi.

SAQAN Interim President, Prof E. Ngara; Deputy Minister of Higher Education and training, Mr M. Manana, CHE Council Chair Prof T. Mosia & CHE CEO Prof N. Baijnath

Making Leaps and Bounds in Regional Quality Assurance: SAQAN holds its 1st General Assemby

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) hosted the Southern African Quality Assurance Network’s (SAQAN) first General Assembly on the 21st of October 2016. The General Assembly (GA), was attended by representatives from the network’s founding national higher education quality assurance bodies which include South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe as well as delegates from non-member bodies and institutions. The objectives of the GA included reviewing resolutions made at the Second Regional Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education held in Gaborone, Botswana in October 2015; finalising the SAQAN Constitution; electing a new Executive Committee and its Sub-Committees; as well as discussing the network’s action programme for 2016/17, among other key matters. Established in 2014, SAQAN is a non-profit, voluntary organisation comprised of quality assurance and promotion bodies and practitioners from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries. It is largely focused on promoting a culture of quality assurance, enhancement and maintenance in higher education across the region, as well as, facilitating the establishment of an integrated, cooperative and harmonised quality higher education system in the region. The network, in its attempt to promote quality in higher education delivery, has worked tirelessly to facilitate and encourage collaborative efforts to achieving and improving quality through engaging extensively with the African Quality Assurance Network (AfriQAN), and plans to strengthen its ties with the Higher Education Committee of SADC as well as the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA) amongst other regional and continental stakeholders and bodies with the aim of enhancing the quality of higher education in the region and on the continent.

Deputy CEO of Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education, Dr E. Garwe

CHE hosts Quality Assurance Fora

Two CHE Quality Assurance Fora were held for both public universities and private higher education providers on the 23rd and the 25th of August respectively. The workshops were centred around the theme of ‘From policy to practice’; and addressed various topical issues such as the newly released CHE policies on the Recognition of Prior Learning, Credit Accumulation and Transfer, and assessment. The chapter on teaching and Learning in the CHE publication Higher education reviewed: Two decades of democracy ( was presented by Dr Denyse Webbstock and delegates had the opportunity to discuss and debate challenges and opportunities for the future. The workshops were attended by representatives from 23 universities and private higher education institutions.


Staff members from the Programme Accreditation directorate: Mr. Denver Grigg, Prof Louie Swanepoel & Mrs Robin Naude

Vitalstats 2014 is at our doorstep

On an annual basis the Monitoring and Evaluation directorate produces the VitalStats publication. There have been four issues, and the latest in the series is currently in print. This publication has been widely used and warmly received throughout the higher education sector as well as in parliament and the media. The distribution of VitalStats 2014 is planned to start by the end of the first week of November 2016. As with the first four issues in the series, it covers data on student enrolments and completion in general and per field of study, staffing, and the performance of the student cohort of 2009, university funding and research output. Regarding the 2009 first-time entering cohort, it is noteworthy that these are the first students to have completed the new National Senior Certificate. This cohort seems to have a lower throughput rate in the degree programmes than the cohort of previous years (i.e. for the 3-year degrees the throughput after 6 years was 59% for the 2008 cohort and only 54% for the 2009 cohort). The financial section contains graphs of particular interest during this time in higher education. Here the graphs indicating institutional income show how the proportions of different income sources (tuition fees, subsidy and third-stream income) have changed in recent years. It is not hard to project what the graph would look like if the trend up to 2014 were to continue. Thanks to NSFAS, we could also include data on the full cost of study and NSFAS funding. Many more performance indicators can be observed and derived from Vitalstats 2014. It is a publication worth having on every desk in the higher education sector.

CHE launches two new publications

The CHE’s Policies on the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT), 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 policies provide direction and guidelines for a dynamic and evolving system of RPL and CAT that will promote lifelong learning, whilst at the same time protecting the quality and standards of qualifications and higher education institutions. The Good Practice Guide for the Quality Management of Short Courses was necessary in the sense that it required higher education institutions to move from the traditional focus on the dual missions of teaching and research, to embrace a more expanded mandate that includes being active role players towards economic growth and social development. The guide has been compiled to provide a system-wide point of reference on which higher education institutions can model their own systems for the quality management of short courses.

CHE takes part in the 8th International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa

Since 2009, the Global University Network for Innovation (GUNi) Africa, the African Quality Assurance Network (AfriQAN) and the Association of African Universities (AAU) have been organising the International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa (ICQAHEA) on an annual basis. The 8th ICQAHEA was hosted jointly by the Namibian National Council on Higher Education (NCHE) and the University of Namibia. It was held in Windhoek from 20 to 23 September 2016. The conference was attended by 253 delegates from 38 countries, including some from outside the Africans continent: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Jordan, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland and the United States of America. The CHE’s CEO, Prof Narend Baijnath; and the Director for Quality Assurance and Promotion Coordination, Dr Amani Saidi, were among those who participated in the conference. The theme of the conference was, ‘Multi-dimensions of Innovation in Higher Education in Africa: Towards Enhancing Quality and Accelerating Regional Harmonisation’. In terms of format, there were six (6) plenary sessions covering topics such as: recent regional developments in quality assurance and harmonisation; innovations for improving teaching and learning; global best practices in quality promotion and development of quality culture; Erasmus+ funding instruments for higher education in Africa; innovation in research, funding and management; and innovation and quality assurance in open and distance teaching and learning. There were also five (5) special sessions, one each on tuning and innovation in education; partnership with an US-based non-governmental organisation called Peregrine which funds different higher education initiatives in Africa; the African quality rating mechanisms which is being championed by the African Union; opportunities under the Pan African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework (PAQAF); and U-multi-rank, a ranking system developed in Germany. Furthermore, there were workshops as well as parallel sessions of paper presentations. A symposium of Vice Chancellors, an Annual Meeting of the African and an excursion to various sites of academic and research interest completed the line-up on the programme of the conference. One key take home message from the conference was that there are a number of EU/AU funded development initiatives in the area of quality assurance and promotion on the continent. The second one was that the Pan African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework (PAQAF) is at an advanced stage of development, and many countries are subscribing to it. The joint EU/AU Harmonisation of African Quality Assurance and Accreditation (HAQAA) Initiative will utilise the PAQAF as the vehicle for driving the process of harmonising the quality assurance and accreditation systems across the continent. The process of developing a continental quality accreditation agency is also underway. These are all important continent-wide developments that South Africa should be part of, with the CHE taking the lead. The third key take home message was that the African Union Commission and UNESCO are working jointly to facilitate the ratification of the “Addis Convention” which is the revised and updated version of the 1981 “Arusha Convention”. As South Africa is also considering ratifying the Addis Convention, it is important that organisations such as the CHE start studying how the current quality assurance systems would be affected, and what necessary changes to the systems need to be implemented to ensure alignment with the Convention.

CHE/HELTASA celebrates excellence in teaching