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CHE > Media and Publications > Che Newsletters > CHE NEWSLETTER – QUALITY MATTERS Volume 1, Issue No. 7, September 2017
September, 2017
Latest news

From the desk of the Chief Executive Officer



Prof Narend Baijnath


Welcome to the September 2017 issue of the newsletter of the Council on Higher Education (CHE). As this issue comes out soon after the women’s month, two of its articles are on the theme of celebrating and saluting women for their courage and the various roles that they play in society.  We recognise that despite significant gains that have been made in some areas, a lot still needs to be done to make women feel safe in our society. Patriarchal power relations continue to oppress women, and many live under constant threat of violence and abuse. As the CHE, we are mindful of the long road still to be walked in making women feel safe, free and equal in our society. We call on every citizen to stand up boldly in advocating and being an activist for a society that has zero tolerance for discrimination and violence against women. In the same vein, we urge men to stand alongside women to stop the scourge of oppression and abuse, and to reflect critically on their own behaviours and attitudes and how these might be abetting the cycle.

The CHE continued to engage stakeholders in various ways, and some of the stakeholder engagement activities that we hosted or participated in, are briefly presented in this issue in the article titled ‘Strategic stakeholder engagement’. One of the activities - the hosting of a delegation from Mozambique - is further elaborated on in an article that also appears in the same issue of the newsletter. Elsewhere in the newsletter, there is a brief report on the key stakeholder workshops that the CHE is organising to take place in October 2017.

 A regular update on the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP) is provided. I urge stakeholders to take note of the deadline for the QEP Phase 2 reports as highlighted in the article titled ‘An update on the Quality Enhancement Project’.

I furthermore urge readers to take note of the launch of our BrieflySpeaking series which are produced by the Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate. The first instalment in the series appears in this issue of the newsletter and it is about research publication ethics in South Africa, with a focus on predatory journals and South African publications in these journals.

The staff members of the CHE frequently receive invitations to participate in external workshops and conferences. The participation in such external events is encouraged where resources permit. In this issue of the newsletter, there is a piece that reports on the experience of a staff member who took part in the Southern African Association of Institutional Research (SAAIR) Conference in August 2017.

As reported in the previous issues, the CHE is in the process of developing a methodology and framework for institutional quality reviews (IQRs) which are expected to be launched in April 2018. An update on the process of developing the framework is included in this issue of the newsletter.

The Finance and Supply Chain Management Unit has been busy developing and/or reviewing a number of policies and frameworks, and these are reported on in this issue of the newsletter. The values of the CHE and some of the activities that form part of the CHE’s corporate social responsibility commitment are the focus of the article titled ‘Ubuntu and living the CH values’. Readers might be interested to note that such initiatives are wholly funded by contributions of employees because the CHE does not have a budget for corporate social responsibility.

I trust that our stakeholders would find the articles in this issue of the newsletter both informative and enjoyable to read. As always, I encourage all readers to provide feedback on the various articles. General feedback on how to improve the newsletter, and the topics to be covered, would also be greatly appreciated.

Enjoy the reading!

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Celebrating and honouring women during the month of August

Prof Narend Baijnath


Banner of CHE Women's Month Campaign

The month of August is dedicated to celebrating and honouring women in South Africa; and hence it is officially declared the ‘Women’s Month’. The 9th of  August is the ‘National Women’s Day’, and it is a public holiday meant to provide all and sundry the opportunity to reflect on the critical and essential roles that women play in households, workplaces, politics, places of worship, economy, science and other various professions, and in society at large. The day is, however, more associated with the commemoration of the 1956 march that black women undertook to the Union Buildings protesting against the Pass Laws. The march brought to prominence the many struggles that women undergo on a daily basis – against gender oppression and discrimination, inequitable representation in politics and the economy, and domestic violence among others. Many gains have been made in terms of representation of women in Parliament, for instance, from a pre-democracy nominal figure of 2.7% to the current 48%. The erosion of discriminatory practices and policies against women are directly attributable to the relentless struggles of women, led by some who are today household names like Frances Baard, Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph and Sophie de Bruyn.

This year’s theme for the commemoration of Women’s month was, ‘The Year of OR Tambo: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward’. As the CHE, we fully support women’s empowerment through equal opportunity, affirmative action, and access to developmental opportunities. We subscribe and continue to campaign for women to feel safe, and to live and move about free of physical violation, sexual harassment, abuse of any sort, and violence or the threat thereof. 

Women continue to play a pivotal role in the advancement and betterment of our society. In light of this, the CHE salutes the women of CHE and South Africa, and acknowledges the contributions that each makes to the organization and to society generally. Our view on, and respect for women resonate well with the words of Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Chairwoman of African Fashion International and the Global Agenda Council on Population at the World Economic Forum who stated as follows:

“I know for sure that African women are endlessly resilient. After what we have overcome in the past, nothing can stop us creating the future we and our country deserve. Just watch us.”

And we will.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Our struggle continues … Our freedom is not yet won!

Prof Kethamonie Naidoo

Women in South Africa have made great strides since 9 August 1956, when 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the dreaded pass laws being extended to them. The proportion of women in Parliament, in universities, and in the public and private sector has increased significantly, and women make up more than 50% of students in higher education. There is greater awareness in society, and particularly among women themselves, of the fundamental human rights of women, as enshrined in the Equality Clause, Section 8 in the Constitution of South Africa, which states:

No person shall be unfairly discriminated against, directly or indirectly, and, without derogating from the generality of this provision, on one or more of the following grounds, in particular: race, gender, sex, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture or language.

Those thousands of women clad in green and black dresses and blouses - the colours of the ANC, Indian woman dressed in brightly coloured saris, Xhosa women in ochre robes and magnificent headscarves, pregnant women and women with babies on their backs, converged on the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings. They stood in complete silence as their leaders went into the building and left hundreds of thousands of signatures on petition forms at the office of the Prime Minister. They showed us strength in unity and gave us the voice to demand justice, fairness, respect and to challenge any form of social oppression against us. In honouring and saluting their courage, resilience and oneness in standing up to oppressive practices, we need to continue to challenge all forms of discrimination and oppression in the workplace, home and in our broader society.

Overt discrimination and oppression in the workplace is easier to challenge, but it is the covert forms that are more difficult to contest. There is a glass ceiling that obstructs women from reaching the highest levels in organisations as there is an unwarranted perception that men make better leaders. Stereotypes about women abound, often among women themselves that we ought to be nurturing, gentle, quiet, ladylike and attractively attired. Often, if not sexually objectified, we are cast into a mothering mould. Yet, we are in essence, amazing complex human beings who can simultaneously be beautiful, kind, nurturing, strong, powerful and intelligent individuals. As women, we need to rise up and claim our professional status as intellectual leaders capable of crushing any form of material or psychological oppression by men or by other women.

Regardless of our differences of race, class, sexual orientation or ethnicity, we need to rise up in unison and stop the violence against women. According to the SAPS statistics in September 2015, 147 women were raped every day in our country. Women wearing miniskirts have been assaulted by taxi drivers. Violence against women, most often by intimate partners, is spiralling out of control. In recent months, we have seen beautiful intelligent young women violently killed and their bodies burnt. We have seen lesbians killed and young female babies and old grandmothers raped. This is not the society envisaged by the women who fought for their freedom in 1956, or the men and women who have given up their lives for our democracy. These are not the values that are enshrined in our Constitution.

For 30 minutes on that auspicious day in 1956, woman stood silently in the winter sun, awaiting the return of their leaders from inside the Union Buildings, and then they burst into harmonious singing of Nkosi sikelel’ I Afrika and Morena Boloka. They began a new song that day as they dispersed from the amphitheatre that continues to echo loudly in our hearts and minds today:

Wathint’ abafazi, wayinthint’ imbokodo uzokufa - Now you have touched the women you have struck a rock, you have dislodged a boulder, you will be crushed.

In celebrating National Women’s Day on 9 August 2017, we need to unite as a nation - women and their fathers, husbands, lovers, sons and friends to stop this scourge of oppression and violence against women. We need to be treated as equals in the workplace, we yearn to walk the streets feeling safe and free to wear whatever we choose to, we want to board a taxi without fear of being assaulted or raped, and we desire to be loved without anxiety of physical harm. It is only when we are able to achieve this, will we be able to say that we are free!

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Strategic stakeholder engagement

Ntokozo Bhengu

The CHE engages stakeholders to promote the organisation and its work, as well as to develop essential networks. The CEO leads the organisation’s stakeholder engagement activities and initiatives.  In the last three months some of the key stakeholder engagements activities that he has been involved in are listed below:

  • On 5 July 2017, the CEO gave a presentation at STADIO, the subsidiary of Curro Group which is focused on higher education,  in Cape Town on the anticipated developmental trajectory for the post-school system, with particular focus on higher education
  • On 11 and 12 July 2017, together with members of the CHE Senior Management, the CEO hosted a delegation from the National Council for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (CNAQ) in Mozambique.
  • On 11 July 2017, the CEO attended a joint meeting of the DHET, SAQA and CHE meeting to discuss roles and responsibilities of the three entities. I was accompanied by the Director: Programme Accreditation
  • On 12 July 2017, the CEO was interviewed by Amanda Jitsing (Director: Public Economics) from DNA Economics as part of the data collection and verification processes for the NQF Act Implementation Evaluation Project. The Directors for Programme Accreditation, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Quality Assurance and Promotion were also interviewed separately.
  • On 20 July 2017, the CEO gave the opening keynote address at the conference of the National Association of Distance Education and Open Learning in South Africa (NADEOSA) which was held at the University of Free State, Bloemfontein. This coincided with the 21st birthday of the NADEOSA.
  • On 26 July 2017, the CEO had a meeting with the Convenor of the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum (PBF) who was interested in learning about the processes of programme accreditation.
  • On 1 August 2017, the CEO attended the DHET, SAQA and CHE meeting regarding the South African Technology Network (SATN) Collaborative Project on the implementation of the HEQSF aligned qualifications. The meeting was held at the Tshwane University of Technology. He was accompanied by the Director: Programme Accreditation
  • On 3 August 2017, as a member of the Umalusi Board, the CEO attended an oversight visit to Umalusi by the Portfolio Committee: Higher Education and Training
  • On 24 August 2017, the CEO attended the meeting of the Council of the  Quality Council for Trade and Occupations (QCTO)
  • On 25 August 2017, the CEO attended the CEO Committee accompanied by the Director: Quality Assurance and Promotion Coordination
  • On 05 September 2017, the CEO convened a discussion with Higher Education Teaching and Learning association of southern Africa (HELTASA), Universities South Africa (USAf), the DHET and the CHE to discuss the revitalisation of the CHE-HELTASA awards. A proposal in this regard has been drafted. The CHE was represented by the CEO and the Director Institutional Audits.
  • On 06 September 2017 the CEO hosted a delegation from the Botswana Qualifications Authority. Several members of the SMC gave presentations on the QA regimen, methods and approached of the CHE.
  • On 07 September 2017, the CEO and the Director: Accreditation participated in the DHET hosted engagement with the private higher education sector on the regulatory environment. The Director Accreditation presented a perspective from the CHE focused on accreditation issues that are of relevance to the sector.
  • On 12 and 13 September 2017, the CEO attended the DHET research colloquium which was focused on reviewing the outcomes of the NQF evaluation. I participated in a discussion panel together with the CEOs of SAQA and the other quality councils (QCs), providing critical commentary on the evaluation report. A researcher from the Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate also attended the colloquium.
  • On 19 September 2017, the CEO hosted a high level delegation of senior officials from the Ministry of Higher Education of Oman led by Dr Abdullah Mohammed Al Sarmi (Deputy Minister). Others within the delegation were Mrs. Lara Obaidat (Acting Director-General of Scholarships), and Mr. Ahmed Al Qutaiti (Acting Deputy Director of International Cooperation). Ambassador His Excellency Mubarak Al Zakwani for the Embassy of Sultanate of Oman in South Africa and delegates from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Mr Nemapate and Mr Maitakhole accompanied the delegation to the CHE. It was a great pleasure to host the delegation as this an opportunity to learn about the Oman education system.

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

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


An up-date on the Quality Enhancement Project

Prof Diane Grayson

On 3 and 4 August we held a workshop in Durban to begin to develop a Code of Good Practice arising from Phase 1 of the QEP. All universities were invited to send four people, one per focus area, to participate in developing this document, which will be a resource for the sector by the sector. Under the leadership of a skilled facilitator, each focus area group will compile a document between now and November in which good practices that have emerged from institutions’ QEP reports over the past three years will be distilled. These drafts will be presented at a follow-up workshop on 28 November. The completed document will be available in the first quarter of 2018.

We have also appointed two writers to produce a meta-analysis and synthesis of all of the reports from Phase 1 of the QEP as another resource document.

Institutions are reminded that the deadline for submission of QEP Phase 2 reports is 30 November 2017. An on-line version of the submission document is available for private providers.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Launch of Briefly Speaking

Dr Genevieve Simpson

The Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate recently launched BrieflySpeaking, a series of monitoring briefs. The new series will consist of regular, short articles which monitor and comment on aspects of the higher education sector. The plan is that the briefs will highlight trends, raise important concerns, provide brief updates on sectoral developments, and summarise relevant reports or polices in relation to higher education. BrieflySpeaking will also make use of higher education data to comment on the sector. The briefs will be uploaded to the CHE website on a regular basis.

The first brief considered the topic of research publication ethics in South Africa, with a focus on predatory journals and South African publications in these journals. The brief also raised other important questions of research ethics, such as plagiarism and the buying of academic papers or theses. In this context, the brief highlighted particular unintended consequences of the DHET’s policy incentivising research output, and indicated the DHET’s response to these concerns. In order to download the brief, please click here:

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


VitalStats and data quality

Mr Michael Gordon

The Southern African Association of Institutional Research (SAAIR) annually convenes a community of scholars, academics, higher education practitioners and institutional researchers dedicated to convert data into useful information for the purpose of decision-making and informing the manner in which institutions function and serve their staff and students. At the beginning of August 2017 SAAIR held its annual HEMIS Institute Conference which brought together knowledgeable and experienced data scientists and professionals. I was privileged to have been invited as a guest speaker to address delegates on the CHE’s VitalStats series of data publications.

The main focus of my talk was on the processes that we follow to quality assure the data that we use in producing the Vitalstats series. The data value chain starts with the capturing of the relevant data into the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) to the analysis and presentation of it into the format of the Vitalstats. My talk touched on data representation and how it improves the quality of data usage and how we have designed VitalStats to be a useful tool for different levels of users and researchers in the field of Higher Education and other sectors.

The talk was well-received by the data professionals and institutional researchers; and such reception served as a good motivation for the on-going work on producing the VitalStats publication every year.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Developing a framework for Institutional Quality Reviews

Prof Diane Grayson

The CHE is in the process of developing the framework for the next cycle of institutional quality assurance processes, which will be called Institutional Quality Reviews (IQRs). The aim of an IQR will be to assess the effectiveness of an institution’s quality assurance system. This will be done in order to:

  1. provide an external mechanism to help safeguard students from inferior educational provision or associated practices that may be deleterious to their welfare, development and future;
  2. provide HEIs with an opportunity to receive external input on the effectiveness of their quality assurance systems with a view to strengthening them, for the benefit of the institutions and their students; and
  3. help institutions develop a quality culture, which forms the basis for a systematic and evidence-based approach to quality enhancement.

The draft framework will be presented at a national consultative forum at the end of October, and the methodology will be piloted in early 2018.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


The CHE hosts a delegation from the National Council for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (CNAQ) of Mozambique

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu