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CHE > Media and Publications > Che Newsletters > CHE NEWSLETTER - QUALITY MATTERS Volume 2, Issue No.2 - March 2019
March, 2019
Latest news

Chief Executive Officer's Overview



Prof Narend Baijnath

Welcome to our first issue of Quality Matters for the year 2019, the official newsletter of the Council on Higher Education (CHE). The newsletter is one of the many platforms we utilise to fulfil the duty to keep our stakeholders and the public at large informed about our work and significant developments at the CHE.  

This issue outlines the CHE’s engagements with its stakeholders to promote the organisation and its work, as well as to develop essential networks within the higher education sector both locally and abroad. Stakeholder engagement initiatives are aimed at achieving collaboration and keeping abreast with the latest trends and developments within the higher education sector and other sectors which have a direct impact on the work of the CHE.

We have during the quarter successfully hosted a Quality Promotion Conference under the theme ‘Promoting Academic Integrity in Higher Education’. The conference was attended by delegates from 8 different countries, from both public and private institutions. The aim of the conference was to create a conducive environment where participants could meaningfully engage on various issues pertaining to academic integrity.

In March this year, the CHE hosted an event jointly with the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) of UCT to inform a diverse audience from the sector on emerging findings from the research project which set out to investigate the opportunities of unbundling and new provision models on offer to address South Africa and England Higher Education challenges. This is a joint project between UCT and Leeds University. The occasion was also used to launch a MOOC on the Unbundled University on the FutureLearn platform. More about this later in an article by Laura Czerniewicz.

We are also happy to announce the completion of one of our regularised flagship publications, VitalStats 2017. This is the eighth in the series and provides analyses of the higher education sector on a range of indicators for the years 2012 to 2017.

The CHE remains an organisation of choice in the SADC region and beyond for benchmarking methods and approaches to quality assurance.  We remain open to sharing our knowledge with our counterparts from various countries. We have opened our doors and welcomed representatives from government ministries of higher education and quality assurance agencies from a range of different jurisdictions. In the process we have also had the opportunity to learn from other quality assurance agencies’ experiences and successes.

In the past five years, there have been major notable changes in patterns of student governance. This change is attributable to the #FeesMustFall movement which brought about new dynamics which necessitated the government and the sector to address various concerns raised by students in public universities. As a result, we hosted a research colloquium on ‘Changes in Patterns of Student Governance’ on 12 March 2019. The colloquium had attendees from public and private higher education institutions, as well as representatives form research councils.

The CHE has welcomed new employees, bringing vast experience to the organisation. We have also bid farewell to a few employees who have gone on to pursue career opportunities elsewhere.

Do enjoy reading the newsletter and do feel free to let us know what you think!!

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


Partnerships, Liaison and Advocacy

Office of the CEO

The Council on Higher Education engages stakeholders to promote the organisation and its work, as well as to develop essential networks within the higher education sector locally and abroad. The Stakeholder Engagement drive is led by the CEO. The following activities took place from the 1st of January to the 4th of March 2019.

On 19 February 2019, the CEO had a meeting with Ms Nazeema Mohamed, the Executive Director of Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement. Ms Mohamed has a wealth of experience in the area of social justice in higher education and university transformation. She also advised the CHE on fundraising strategies.

On 21 February 2019, the CEO attended the QCTO Symposium at Birchwood Conference Centre. The purpose of the Symposium was to explore pragmatic ways in which skills development programmes can make a difference.

On 22 to 24 February 2019, the CEO attended the 3rd World Skills South Africa National Competition and Artisan Career Festival 2019, at Durban International Convention Centre.

On 02 March 2019, the CEO attended the NQF Stakeholder Forum at Emperors Palace, Jones Road, Boksburg. The purpose of the forum was for key stakeholders to understand the new NQF environment and share their perceptions on related implementation matters.


Dr Louie Swanepoel, Minister Naledi Pandor and

Prof Narend Baijnath at the NQF Stakeholder Forum at Emperors Palace


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


The 2019 Quality Promotion Conference

By Dr Christa Moyo

Quality Promotion Conference delegates

A Quality Promotion Conference under the theme, ‘Promoting Academic Integrity in Higher Education’ was hosted by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) at the CSIR International Convention Centre, in Pretoria, South Africa from the 26th to 28th February 2019.

Two hundred (200) participants comprising representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), government institutions, public and private universities and Quality Assurance Councils attended the conference. Eight African countries, namely Botswana, Malawi, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, were represented at this 3 day conference.

The focus of the conference was to create a conducive environment where participants would meaningfully engage on various issues pertaining to academic integrity. Among the issues discussed were academic integrity and what it entails, its relationship with quality and quality assurance, the need to promote academic integrity and how academic integrity can be promoted in higher education. 

The conference was officially opened by Prof Narend Baijnath, the CEO of the CHE. His welcome and keynote speech set the tone for the conference. Keynote speakers, panellists, plenary speakers and parallel session presenters were unanimous in that academic dishonesty was a real threat to academic integrity and that the dishonesty had permeated all higher education institutions both locally and globally. Some of the acts of dishonesty mentioned included examination cheating using cell phones and other technological devices, ghost writing, plagiarism by both students and academics. Illicit relationships between students and staff also facilitated corruption. There was a consensus that acts of academic dishonesty not only affected individuals but had a snowball effect where they escalated to other stakeholders, such as the class or cohort, to institutions, the economic system, society, national higher education institutions and globally.

A number of pertinent points on promoting academic integrity were raised by various speakers. The conference felt that promoting academic integrity in higher education institutions would require robust quality assurance systems that would promote and monitor issues of academic integrity in higher education institutions. Creating platforms where institutions could engage each other on such issues would go a long way in addressing the challenges faced by higher education institutions. Participants also felt that integrating technology using it meaningfully in teaching and learning, and capacity building would assist in detecting, monitoring and curbing acts of academic dishonesty.

Overall, the conference was a resounding success. It managed to put academic integrity at the centre of the discourse. Presenters spoke with one voice in condemning academic dishonesty in higher education institutions. The general feeling among the participants was that there is need for all stakeholders, namely students, academics and professional staff in higher education institutions, to play their part in curbing this menace. Achieving this would require a commitment and collaborative effort from students, academics, non-academics and society as a whole.

Ndlovu Choir

Conference delegates were treated to lovely music and dance from the ‘Ndlovu Choir’ which performed at both the start of the conference and at the Gala Dinner. The group put up some sterling performance and left participants asking for more.


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


The Unbundled University

Researching emerging models in an unequal landscape

By Prof Laura Czerniwics

Left to right, Alan Cliff, Laura Czerniewics, Skaina Walji, Narend Baijnath, Bronwen Swinnerton,
Neil Morris and Ahmed Bawa

In March 2019, Laura Czerniewicz, Neil Morris, Alan Cliff, Bronwen Swinnerton and Sukaina Walji were delighted to have the opportunity to engage with Higher Education policy makers and decision makers to discuss the implications of the emerging findings from the research. Co-hosted with the Council on Higher Education (CHE), the event was held at the CHE with attendees from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Universities South Africa (USAf), along with DVCs of Teaching and Learning, and Heads of Teaching and Learning Centres from universities in South Africa. Some 45 delegates filled the CHE with lively conversation ensuing. After a welcome from the CHE CEO, Prof Narend Baijnath, the programme took the form of a presentation by the research team on the emerging findings, followed by a panel discussion with DVCs from the University of Cape Town and the University of Johannesburg, a Deputy Director General from DHET and the Chair in Educational Technology at Leeds University, with Prof Ahmed Bawa from USAf chairing the panel. The event concluded with the launch of the Massive Open Online Course, The Unbundled University, The Market and Digital Technology, which forms part of the research dissemination activities of this project.

The objective of the event was to share the findings of the research and seek views on implications with leaders in South African Higher Education. This objective was certainly fulfilled if the discussion and questions that followed are anything to go by. While the discussion was wide-ranging, there seemed to be three threads running through the comments at the event.

1. Priorities in South African Higher Education

Whilst there was a general acknowledgement of the changing nature of higher education globally towards a more digitally mediated future with unbundled provision, the dominant view was that the more immediate issues in South Africa at present are access to and success in higher education itself, given the inherent inequalities in the system. With regards to digitisation, participants emphasised that there is still an urgent need to ensure equitable access to digital devices, Internet access, and use of blended learning to enhance the quality and throughput of campus-based education. At the same time participants provided examples of the use of digital technology on campus to improve access, flexibility and engagement with learning, to enhance the student learning experience, and to address the challenges of throughput. For some attendees, traditional learning methods and traditional distance education were considered more appropriate for the context of their learners, and some argued that online learning was not appropriate at the current time for the majority of their students.

For participants concerned with the role of digital technology and online learning in their universities, there was a general concern about appropriate pedagogical practices within the teaching community. Participants raised concerns about digital literacy for both students and educators, as well as pedagogical understanding for educators starting to use blended learning approaches.

Participants also provided examples of ‘internal unbundling’ where universities had disaggregated learning and teaching provision, and provided standalone learning in an online mode. In some cases, these courses were being produced to meet the demands of particular cohorts of learners, or to reach non-traditional students.

2. Challenges of collaboration and outsourcing

Participants at the event had heated discussions about the involvement of organisations outside of the higher education sector in the creation, development and delivery of online learning. An argument was made for the sector to organise itself to be able to deliver unbundled online learning courses without the need for profit companies, and there were calls for increased collaboration between universities to work together to create and deliver these courses. A range of opinions were voiced about previous experience of South African universities working together, and doubt was expressed about this being effective, despite strong endorsement from government and sector body representatives. There seemed to be consensus, albeit unwilling at times, that some form of external organisation involvement would be required to facilitate the creation, sharing and delivery of unbundled online provision at a sectoral level – ideas included the provision of a national online learning platform.

While views expressed were mixed, there was a fair amount of scepticism from participants about the value of partnering with for-profit companies (e.g. Online Program Management companies) to develop and deliver unbundled online learning provision, despite examples of successful partnerships described by participants, and an acknowledgement that universities’ requirements to generate third stream income was a motivator. Some participants gave examples of previous partnerships with companies, which had resulted in a negative perception of their motivations, particularly when working with universities strongly focussed on the public good. Participants talked about the negative connotations of outsourcing academic activity especially in the light of recent events in the sector, where outsourcing had been one of the foci of student protests.

Related to industry demands for ‘work ready’ graduates, which could influence the nature of provision, there was general agreement that there was a danger to the sector for aligning too closely to specific industry needs, which risks obsolescence (as industry changes). However, this led to questions about what the university is for – what is the knowledge project of the university?

3. The changing global environment and a South African response

Participants discussed some of the initiatives taking place in the global context, for example, New Zealand’s national standards for micro-credentials, and acknowledged the need for the South African higher education sector to engage with such opportunities as a means for improving access, through more flexible entry. However, some participants cited regulatory barriers as impediments to innovation and activity in this space; this was recognised by government and sector bodies present at the event. In general, there was an acknowledgement that the issue of micro-credentials and flexible pathways made possible with granular learning units needed to be debated within the sector. There was a view for initiatives to be supported, which could meet both the local and global challenges, and were appropriate for the South African context, taking into account the local challenges faced by students, educators and universities.


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


VitalStats 2017 Unboxed

By Mr Michael Gordon

VitalStats - Public Higher Education 2017

It is that time of the year again when one of the flagship publications of the CHE comes out. Being the eighth in the series, the CHE is proud to  present VitalStats 2017 (VS2017) in a fresh orange cover. The value of these publications lies in their consistency across a number of years. You can lay the series next to each other and effectively review the performance of the higher education sector from 2005 to 2017.

VS2017 takes a view of the years from 2012 to 2017, giving the audience the key performance indicators from enrolments to graduates, participation rates to the staff at our universities. VS2017 shows the cohort analysis and the funding elements of the higher education sector and finishes with some research output data.

As delighted as we are to bring you VS2017, we are appreciative of our stakeholders without whom this project would not be possible. We firstly applaud the former director of the Monitoring and Evaluation directorate at the CHE under whose leadership and vision the VitalStats publication started. Dr Denyse Webbstock took a position at the University of Johannesburg from the beginning of January 2019 and we wish her all the best!

We also wish to thank the DHET for the data they provided, especially Jean Skene, Jacques Appelgryn, Richard Nempandoni and Fhumulani Maanda, who are always such a pleasure to work with. The cohort analysis would not be possible without the skills and work done by Dr Charles Sheppard.

The Monitoring and Evaluation team cannot be more pleased to bring this publication, which has been so positively received by the higher education sector with gratitude.

You can send your suggestions to the Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate of the CHE using the following email:


Promoting quality assurance and developing essential networks within the higher education sector locally and abroad

By Mr Ntokozo Bhengu 

In the period of December 2018 to March 2019 the Council on Higher Education welcomed and hosted delegates from various institutions of higher education in Botswana, Kenya, Somalia and Zambia, respectively.


The Council on Higher Education, in collaboration with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), welcomed Senior Officials from The Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology of Botswana. The delegation was led by Dr Theophilus Mooko, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology of Botswana for a two-day working visit to the CHE. 


CHE staff and Botswana delegation visit to the CHE

The purpose of the visit was for the delegates to be acquainted with the South African higher education and training system, and particularly with the work of the CHE. Over the two days the delegates were familiarised with the mandate of the CHE and its various functions, policies, systems and its process for quality assurance in the higher education sector.    

Study visit to the Council on Higher Education (CHE) by Commission for University Education (CUE) Kenya, 5 to 6 December 2018

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) welcomed the Kenyan Commission for University Education (CUE) on a two-day visit. The aim of the visit was to advance bilateral relations between the organisations, and to learn and understand the current CHE quality assurance systems and processes.

The Kenyan Commission is tasked with regulating University Education in Kenya and advising the Cabinet Secretary (Minister) on all matters of University Education in Kenya. The Commission identified the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and UNISA as well-renowned and vibrant organisations dealing with the Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) system as well as Open, Distance and e-Learning (ODeL). The Council on Higher Education hosted a team of six Senior Management staff of the Commission for the purposes of benchmarking. The two-day session with the Commission proved to be fruitful as vital information was shared on the overall work of the CHE, specifically how it manages the Credit Accumulation and Transfer system.  

Visit by Somali Minister of Education and Training, Culture and Higher Education, 20 February 2019

CHE staff members and the Somali delegation visit to the CHE.

The Council on Higher Education with the Department of Higher education and Training (DHET) jointly hosted the Somali Minister of Education and Training, Culture and Higher Education led by Honourable Abdullahi Godah Barre. The purpose of the visit was for the Minister and his team to familiarise themselves with the South African higher education and training landscape and to explore possible areas of cooperation.

The Minister and his team were taken through the mandate and overview of the CHE and its various functions as the Quality Council for Higher Education in terms of the National Qualifications Framework Act (Act No. 67 of 2008). The Minister indicated the need for a follow up visit to the CHE with the view of further exploring the various functions, systems and processes of the CHE and establish potential future ventures.   

Study Visit of Senior Managers from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) of Zambia, 4 to 5 March 2019.

A team of Senior Managers from the newly established Higher Education Authority (HEA) in Zambia visited the CHE on a study tour. The HEA is the Zambian equivalent of the CHE, although it functions as a branch of the Ministry of Higher Education in Zambia.

The HEA is in the process of developing its own quality assurance systems, instruments and processes. It therefore wished to benchmark these against the more dependable ones of the CHE, South Africa. 

CHE staff members and the Zambian delegates

The team was particularly interested to meet and interact with counterparts at the CHE in the Accreditation, National Standards and Reviews, Institutional Audits, and Research directorates.  

In order to shed some light on the work of the CHE, some aspects were presented to the Authority, including an overview of the mandate and scope of the work of the directorates; an explanation of the instruments, processes and procedures that each directorate uses; presentation of the relevant frameworks, handbooks and/or manuals that guide the work of the CHE; a discussion of new developments that are underway and those planned for the near future. Following this, the visiting delegation were offered the opportunity to engage and ask questions.

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


Colloquium: Changes in Patterns of Student Governance 

By Ms Selina Mokatsane


Colloquium facilitator Mr. Bruce Banda – Director: Student Academic Administration, UKZN

One of the mandates of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) is the monitoring and evaluation function. It is against this backdrop that the CHE hosted a colloquium on Changes in Patterns of Student Governance on 12 March 2019. The colloquium had attendees from public and private higher education institutions, as well as representation form research councils, a private hospital operator and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). 

Colloquium delegates who were in attendance

The colloquium provided for engagement on the challenges, opportunities and solutions relating to students and student governance in higher education institutions. The #MustFall movements of the last few years attracted national and international attention, and were the impetus for change for the student experience in universities. From the discussions, it became evident that there is still a way to go to redress the challenges that students face. Solutions and suggestions emanated, such as opening the lines of engagement and enabling students to report directly to top management with the view to avoid messages being “lost in translation” in long reporting lines. The notion of inclusivity (of historically disadvantaged institutions, LQBTQI+ communities and so on) and comprehensiveness in research, was strongly recommended. The implementation of various programmes was also emphasised, including mental health awareness, leadership training and support, and the development of structured modules designed for students who wish to participate in student governance. Media coverage and social media stood out as influential forces surrounding protests. The former was especially seen in the leaderless #FeesMustFall movements that were portrayed as having had leadership – which also saw female representation coming to the fore. The need for creativity was stated, especially for those in leadership positions, to draw on the current state of affairs, to remain abreast of changes in a dynamic higher education sector, to find tangible solutions, and to implement these solutions to foster change.

South African Union of Students (SAUS) Deputy President Ms Fasiha Hassan and

President Mr Meshack Mugabe in attendance at the Colloquium


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



Staff-related matters

By Ms Vuyokazi Matsam

Welcoming new employees

Dr Luyanda Marhaya

The Council on Higher Education welcomed Dr Luyanda Marhaya, who joined the CHE as a Senior Manager in the National Standards and Reviews Directorate. We highly value the level of knowledge and experience he brings to the organisation. He will be providing the much needed skills to further enhance and contribute towards the realisation of the CHE mandate and the higher education sector as a whole. We wish him the best and welcome him to the CHE. 


Mr Patson Mochebane

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Mr Patson Mochebane, who joined the CHE as a Supply Chain Officer in the Corporate Services directorate on the 1st of February 2019. Mr Mochebane has a National Diploma and B-Tech in Logistics Management from Tshwane University of Technology. We welcome him to the CHE family and extend all our support to him.   


Dr Christabelle Moyo

The CHE welcomed Dr Christabelle Moyo as a Researcher in the Quality Assurance and Promotion Coordination (QAPC) directorate. Dr Moyo joined the CHE on the 21st of January 2019 on a 12 months fixed term contract. Dr Moyo has a certificate (Education), B Degree (Education), MA (Educational Administration Planning & Policy Studies from University of Zimbabwe and PhD (Rural Development) from University of Venda. We welcome her to the CHE family and extend our support to her.

We bid farewell to...

Ms Chwayita Finiza

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) bid farewell to Ms Chwayita Finiza, who was an intern hosted by the CHE from the National Research Foundation (NRF) Internship Programme. Ms Finiza worked for the Programme Accreditation directorate as an administrator. The CHE is grateful for her input and commitment displayed in her time spent at the CHE. She contributed a lot to the success of the Programme Accreditation directorate and her presence will be dearly missed. Her last day was on the 25 February 2019. On behalf of the CHE, we would like to extend our gratitude for her contribution to the organisation and wish her every success in her future endeavours.

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



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