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CHE > Media and Publications > Che Newsletters > CHE NEWSLETTER – QUALITY MATTERS Volume 1, Issue No.6 – June 2017
June, 2017
Latest news

From the desk of the Chief Executive Officer

Prof. Narend Baijnath

The implementation of the CHE’s revised Strategic Plan, which was the outcome of the strategic review process undertaken last year, is the main focus of the organisation during the current financial year. The work is demanding undivided attention at all levels in the organisation such that the first quarter of the 2017/18 financial year has hurtled along at a frenetic pace. Although there are a myriad of things that require attention, the organisation cannot renege on its commitment to keeping its stakeholders informed about the developments and other activities taking place within the CHE. It is therefore with pleasure that I introduce to our stakeholders the June 2017 issue of Quality Matters, the official newsletter of the CHE.

In this issue, readers will find information about the stakeholder engagement activities that we have embarked upon to enhance the visibility of the CHE within the higher education landscape, and thereby improve the organisation’s public profile and reputation. Also in this issue is a regular update on the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP).

Stakeholders would also recall that one of the functions of the CHE is to monitor and report on the state of the higher education system on a regular basis. You would therefore be pleased to read in this newsletter about the publications that the CHE has produced.  One of the new publications is Monitor 14, titled ‘Learning to Teach in Higher Education in South Africa’ [ limited free copies are still available upon request from the CHE]. This publication presents the work of eighteen researchers across eight universities who set out to understand the complex relationship between the contexts in which academics work, and the ways in which they learn to teach. Together with the other prolific output in excess of 30 publications flowing from the research project, Monitor 14 contributes to the growing collection of quality scholarship on teaching, learning and academic development focused on our socio political and educational context. The second publication is the 11th issue of the journal, Kagisano, with contributions from participants in a Norwegian-South African research partnership that explored some of the major issues and trends in universities in these countries against the backdrop of their respective constitutions. Also published recently is the fifth in the annual VitalStats series which is enormously valuable in providing a dashboard on performance in the higher education sector on a diverse range of measures.

The CHE’s work in the area of developing qualification standards is continuing apace. An article in this issue of the newsletters informs stakeholders of the latest additions to the long list of qualification standards developed or being developed. These are for a Diploma (NQF Level 6) and a Higher Certificate (NQF Level 5) in Emergency Medical Care (EMC). A reference group has already been established to assist in the development of the standards for these two qualifications. 

In the last issue of the CHE newsletter, there was an article on the EU-funded joint DHET and CHE project on developing a national regulatory framework for interaction, coordination and collaboration among role players involved in the production of graduates in professional fields. In this issue, there is an article that informs stakeholders about a very successful international colloquium that was held as part of the same project.

Stakeholders may also be interested to read in this issue of the newsletter a piece on a discourse on ‘Internationalisation of Africa’ which was hosted by Monash South Africa. Mr Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain, was the key speaker; and I was invited to be one of the discussants.  

I have no doubt that many readers will find the article that reminds all of us that that employees are the most important asset of the CHE, refreshing. This cannot be over-emphasised.

I encourage stakeholders to read this issue of the CHE newsletter and provide feedback on the various articles. General feedback on how to improve the newsletter, and topics to be covered will also be greatly appreciated.

Enjoy the reading!


Strategic stakeholder engagement

Prof Narend Baijnath

As the means to expand the network and enhance the profile of the Council on Higher Education, the CHE continues to engage stakeholders to promote the organisation and its work. In this endeavour, I have responded to numerous invitations and also initiated several platforms to engage regularly with stakeholders. I accepted and attended the Public Protector’s Stakeholder Consultative Forum which forms part of ongoing activities of the Public Protector which seek to leverage Stakeholder relations for enhanced service delivery to the people of South Africa. On 7 March 2017, I attended the meeting of the Advisory Board of the 'Unbundling Higher Education' project which took take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. On 8 March 2017, I presented the opening keynote address at the Open Education GlobalConference in Cape Town, which followed the meeting of the Unbundled University project.  The Open Education Global Conference is the most internationally diverse conference dedicated to the impacts and practices of Open Education worldwide.

On 24 March 2017, the CHE hosted a Workshop on Professional Councils at Kopanong Conference Centre where I presented on the strategic direction of the CHE. The workshop was attended by 56 people, 41 of whom were from professional councils. In total 15 statutory councils and 5 other SAQA-recognised professional bodies were represented. The DHET, SAQA, USAf and the Accreditation Committee also sent their representatives.

On 3 April 2017, upon invitation from the European Union and HAQAA, I attended the opening and closing plenaries of the Harmonisation and Tuning Initiative, 4th General meeting held in Johannesburg. On 10 April 2017, I attended a public lecture on transformation (Curriculum Transformation Matters: The Decolonial Turn) presented by Dr Saleem Badat at the University of Pretoria, Senate Hall, Administration Building, Hatfield Campus.

At the request of the President of the Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN), the CHE coordinated and consolidated inputs from higher education institutions in South Africa on the draft concept paper on a proposed credit accumulation and transfer system (CATS) for the Southern African region.

The CHE will continue engaging its stakeholders at various levels and on different platforms as a means of 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 update on the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP)

Prof Diane Grayson

One of the focus areas in Phase 1 of the Quality Enhancement Project (2014-2016) was Enhancing Academics as Teachers. One of the effects of asking all institutions to engage with this focus area over the past three years has been a growing appreciation that good quality and effective teaching in higher education is critical if we are to improve student success. While the QEP provided the impetus for institutions to consider how to improve teaching, the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Teaching Development Grants provided the means to do so. In 2016 Dr Whitty Green from the DHET and I submitted a proposal for funding from the European Union-South Africa Dialogue Facility to hold a national workshop on Improving the Effectiveness of University Teaching. The workshop was held from 24 to 26 May 2017, and was attended by participants from 25 universities and speakers from the UK Higher Education Academy, Lund University in Sweden and Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The purpose of the workshop was to initiate a national dialogue, “to explore how to create structured, systemic means to improve the quality of university teaching in order to improve student success. Nationally agreed-upon measures are needed for recognising quality teaching, together with opportunities for professional development.” At the conclusion of the workshop possible components of a national coordinating framework were discussed. The project steering committee will meet in the near future to discuss how to take forward a process of creating a framework that would enable, support and drive the development of academics in their role as university teachers. Proceedings of the workshop will be available in due course.

A workshop is being planned for early August to begin developing codes of good practice in each of the four focus areas from Phase 1 of the QEP. These will be based largely on what has been learnt from the sector over the past three years. The codes of good practice will be a resource for the whole sector. DVCs have been asked to submit names of suggested participants from their universities.

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


Two new CHE publications

Dr Denyse Webbstock

If you are looking for good reads, the CHE has two new possibilities for you.

The two new publications

Monitor 14 is out – it showcases the work of eighteen researchers across eight universities who set out to understand the complex relationship between the contexts in which academics work and the way in which they learn to teach. Entitled “Learning to Teach in Higher Education in South Africa”, it offers insights and recommendations to inform the development of professional learning initiatives at both institutional and national policy levels. The team, led by Professor Brenda Leibowitz, spent many months engaging with academics as teachers in their places of work to develop an empirically-based but theoretically informed understanding of what motivates them, how they conceptualise teaching, how they had learnt to teach, what institutional support they had, and what they found to be the most effective modes of professional learning. The study showed that informal learning opportunities were at least as important as the formal ones, such as courses on teaching and learning, and that an enabling environment with good leadership is essential in transforming teaching and learning.

“Constituting Higher Education”, the 11th issue of the journal Kagisano, provides contributions from participants in a Norwegian-South African research partnership that explored some of the major issues and trends in universities in these countries against the backdrop of their respective constitutions. The contributions are varied; there are articles from academics from both countries, two South African university Vice-Chancellors and a Constitutional Court judge. Guest edited by Professor John Higgins of UCT, the journal issue covers the relationship of research-based knowledge and constitutional democracies, explores the nature of executive leadership, raises questions around academic freedom and human rights in an era of student protest, and traces the effect on knowledge and democracy of the rise of neoliberal post-national constitutionalism. There is much food for thought in this journal, some of it quite provocative, and we invite responses and ideas for future issues that may be spawned by this one.

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


VitalStats 2015 shines brightly

Mr Michael Gordon

The Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate at the CHE produces the VitalStats publication on an annual basis. So far, there have been five issues in the series, and VitalStats 2015 as the latest in the series is out. We are currently distributing it and the online PDF version is available for download. This publication has been warmly received and widely used throughout the higher education sector. It has also proved to be an important resource to parliament as well as to the media.

It seems like just yesterday when we released the first issue in our collectable VitalStats range, VitalStats 2010. We are very proud of this series and how widely it has been used. The feedback and compliments are extremely valuable and encouraging.

VitalStats 2015 covers the same range of data as VitalStats 2014, starting from 2010 to 2015. You can look forward to seeing enrolment and graduate data on our public higher education sector as well as staffing and cohort analysis data. We continue to cover performance indicators such as field of study, qualification types, research outputs, university funding, and student throughput and dropout data.

The 2010 first-time entering cohort of students who completed within the 6 year time-frame we cover in our cohort analysis showed better throughput than the 2009 cohort in the 360-credit diploma, 3-year degree and the 4-year degree programmes, with as much as a 5% increase in throughput in the degree programmes over 6 years.

Under the university funding section we had to discontinue the graph showing the value of research development per unit, since the manner in which this component is dealt with has changed.

VitalStats 2015 will certainly be of great value to the sector as with the five forerunners in the VitalStats series. It is definitely worth having them all.

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


Developing qualification standards for Emergency Medical Care programmes

Dr Siyanda Makaula

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) was established in terms of the Health Professions Act (Act No. 56 of 1974) to protect the public and guide the professions. The Act requires that all Health Professionals practising in South Africa should be registered with the HPCSA and practice in accordance with and within the ethical and legal framework of the Council.

In terms of Section 16 of the Health Professions Act of 1974, any person, educational institution or training facility wishing to offer education and training and having as the object to qualify any person for the practising of any health profession to which the provisions of the Act applies, shall before offering such education and training, apply to the Professional Board in writing for professional accreditation of such education and training.

The Board has aligned relevant qualifications for emergency care providers with the relevant legislation and policies including the Higher Education Act, Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF), National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act, National Emergency Care Education and Training Policy (NECET) and the National Health Insurance (NHI) Plan.

The Emergency Medical Care (EMC) reference group recently met with the CHE’s National Standards and Reviews Directorate on 30 and 31 May 2017 at the National Department of Health offices in Pretoria. This group has been tasked with developing the qualification standards for Diploma (NQF 6) and Higher Certificate (NQF 5) in Emergency Medical Care. The Diploma is designed to produce Emergency Care Technicians (ECTs), who are mid-level health professionals able to provide emergency care and rescue services within South Africa, within diverse environments that range from rural disadvantaged communities to sophisticated, highly developed urban areas. The Higher Certificate is designed to produce Emergency Care Assistants (ECAs) who are entry-level health workers, to work primarily on ambulances within the prehospital emergency care environment.

Qualification standards provides some benefits to individual holders of the qualification, to profession and to society at large. The benefits to the individual holders of the qualifications include the following:

  • provide a clear entry or progression point for persons wishing to embark on a career in the emergency care profession;
  • serve as a vehicle for self-development of persons already working in the emergency services sector who wish to improve their qualifications; and
  • provide for holistic development of individuals whilst providing them with competencies required to function as members of emergency care teams.

These qualification standards benefit the emergency and health care profession in that they:

  • provide a consistent and coherent foundation for evidence-based practice at both entry and mid-level worker levels and allow for progression within the emergency care profession in the context of the NQF;
  • provide a means for the critical function of formal certification and registration within the profession, thus ensuring society is served by competent professionals;
  • legitimize the worker scope of practice; and
  • provide a comparable benchmark within the health professions.

Some of the key benefits of qualification standards to society are that:

  • patients are served by competent Emergency Care Assistant and Technicians, thus increasing their chances of survival and recovery.
  • there may be a reduction in the cost of health care and hospitalization through more efficient use of resources; and
  • given South Africa's role as one of five developing nations, this qualification will provide a benchmark for other Emergency Medical Care qualifications offered elsewhere in the African continent.

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


A International colloquium on a framework for interaction, coordination and collaboration in Post-School Education and Training

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

This colloquium was convened and organised by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Council on Higher Education (CHE) in partnership with the South African – European Union Dialogue Facility. The colloquium took place from 18 to 19 May 2017 at Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg. It was attended by various stakeholders from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, professional councils (PCs), provincial and national departments of government, Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and the industry.

The recognition of endless possibilities and maximising the complementarity of the roles of key players in the sector requires building and maintenance of relationships based on collaboration, cooperation, and communication.  It also needs the recognition of the importance of each role player’s contribution to improving and enhancing the quality of higher and further education and training in South Africa to deliver competent and skilled workforce.

The aim of the colloquium was the conceptualisation and development of a draft national regulatory framework through which:

  • the interaction, coordination and collaboration between professional bodies, the CHE/QCTO, industry, SETAs, provincial and national government departments, and higher / further education institutions can be enhanced; and
  • would be used as a basis for a formal multi-stakeholder vehicle to give ongoing attention to the imperatives for action that are identified.’

The programme for the colloquium was framed by the need for:

i. political leadership to bring together key government departments, professional bodies, post-school institutions, employers and other stakeholders in order to develop a meaningful framework (or frameworks) for interaction, coordination and collaboration;

ii. establishing an evidence-based point of departure for the development of a framework which will impact meaningfully on the production of a skilled, capable and flexible workforce and the employment of qualified graduates;

iii. reaching agreement amongst key institutional role-players and stakeholders on the purpose, scope, nature and principles of a framework for interaction, coordination and collaboration; and

iv. securing the buy in, commitment and cooperation of key institutional role-players and stakeholders to the proposed framework.