2020 Quality Promotion Conference
Monday, November 4, 2019

Article: Adam Habib’s Rebels and Rage. Reflecting on #FeesMustFall: A critical appraisal
Friday, October 25, 2019

Adam Habib’s Rebels and Rage. Reflecting on #FeesMustFall: A critical appraisal

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

CHE > Media and Publications > Che Newsletters > CHE NEWSLETTER - QUALITY MATTERS Volume 2, Issue No.3 September 2019
Council on Higher Education
September, 2019
Council on Higher Education
Latest news

Chief Executive Officer’s Overview



Prof Narend Baijnath

Welcome to our latest issue of Quality Matters, the official newsletter of the Council on Higher Education (CHE). The newsletter is one of the many avenues that we utilise to keep our stakeholders and the public at large informed about our work and significant developments in the sector. 

This issue highlights some of the events that have taken place at the CHE in recent months. I attended the Commonwealth of Learning Board of Governors where I was elected the Deputy Chairperson of the Board. I have been the South African representative on the Board as the Minister’s nominee.  

On other matters, the CHE has embarked on the development of an Integrated Quality Assurance Framework (IQAF) for the higher education sector. The CHE has over the years recognised the need for simplified, streamlined and more impactful quality assurance (QA) processes at both the programme and institutional levels, with demonstrable value added to institutions of higher education (HEIs). Work on the framework is proceeding apace, drawing upon expertise within the sector and from our partners abroad. 

The CHE recently welcomed a delegation from the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) as part of promoting quality assurance and developing essential networks within the higher education sector locally, regionally and internationally. This type of initiative affords the CHE an opportunity to strengthen and maintain good relationships with quality assurance agencies within the SADC region and globally.

The CHE continues to actively engage with stakeholders within the higher education sector on various fora as a means of keeping abreast with developments in the sector. As such, the CHE has allowed several of its staff members to attend conferences and workshops held in various parts of the country and the region. 

Building on the successes of previous CHE conference and colloquia, the CHE has started with the work of organising the 2020 Quality Promotion Conference which is scheduled to take place from 26 to 28 February 2020 in Pretoria, Gauteng. The first public announcement and call for abstracts have been published on the CHE website and its social media platforms. Since spaces will be limited, you are encouraged to register as soon as practical.

I hope you enjoy reading this issue of the newsletter, and please feel free to send us feedback.

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


Professor Baijnath attends a meeting of the Commonwealth of Learning Board of Governors in Canada

By Ms Selina Mokatsane 

Commonwealth of Learning Board of Governors

Back row (from left): Mr Michael Gort, His Excellency Ambassador Hubert John Charles, Lord David Puttnam, Ms Louise Ellis, The Rt Hon Sir Lockwood Smith, Professor Narend Baijnath, Dr Arjoon Suddhoo.

Front row (from left): Professor Belinda Tynan, Professor Asha Kanwar, Dr Linda Sissons, The Honourable Mr Nurul Islam Nahid, Letuimanu'asina Dr Emma Kruse Vaai.

Professor Narend Baijnath’s affiliation with the Commonwealth of Learning (CoL) extends over the past six years. He is the South African representative on the Commonwealth of Learning Board of Governors, as appointed by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, owing to South Africa’s role within the CoL organisation as one of the major donors and influential members of the Commonwealth making contributions to development throughout the Commonwealth nations.

The CoL is an inter-governmental organisation that comprises 53 member states. It was established over 30 years ago, in 1988, by the Commonwealth Heads of Government with the objective of leveraging technology and open and distance learning, to promote development and capacity in member countries. The organisation’s headquarters is in Burnaby, in the Canadian city of Vancouver. It is the world’s only inter-governmental organisation concerned exclusively with promoting and developing distance education and open learning. With the aim of promoting the use of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies, the CoL works collaboratively with governmental and non-governmental organisations and other institutions in the Commonwealth, as well as with international development agencies.

The CoL receives financial support for its core operations from the Commonwealth governments on a voluntary basis. Some of the big donors include Australia, Canada, India, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Nigeria, as well as South Africa – with the latter donating a quarter million dollars a year. These member states, through their major contributions, have representatives on  the Board of Governors of the CoL.

Prof Narend Baijnath was elected the Deputy Chair of the Board of Governors of the CoL at the June 2019 meeting. In addition, he is the Chair of the Audit Committee, which he described as a difficult role for such a big, complex organisation. On his recent trip to Canada, the Board convened on 27 June 2019 for the annual face-to-face meeting to discuss the progress made towards achieving the targets set out in their Strategic Plan 2015-2021. Prof Baijnath explained that the meeting is a typical Board meeting which requires members to attend in person. He stated that the four Audit Committee meetings, on the other hand, are conducted through teleconference.

The Board considers reports on the functioning and performance of the organisation, as well as on the achievement of the organisation’s strategic and operational objectives. It has a vast number of programmes including teacher education; virtual education; university education; and with a focus on women and girls. Thus, the beneficiaries and focus of the organisation are those that are under-served and the unreached, and nations considered poor, as well as disaster-stricken countries. In such cases, the CoL assists disaster-stricken countries to recover from the invariable damage and destruction of the disaster and return to normality as soon as possible.

The CoL empowers people through learning that leads to economic growth, social inclusion and environmental conservation. Accordingly, South Africa is contributing in a major way to development in other parts of the world, which is great for enhancing South Africa’s stature in global political relations. Prof Baijnath considers South Africa’s role and his representation as very crucial, adding that the country can take comfort in the worthwhile contribution that it makes to the huge number of people who are impacted by the programmes of the CoL.

Prof Baijnath states that the current Board of Governors of the CoL is rich in its diversity of interests and it brings together different political and socio-economic interests. He adds that the unity of purpose within the Board “is marvellous to experience with everyone pulling in the same direction.” The focus is on what the organisation does and the impact and outcomes of the organisational effort – instead of jostling for positions and control – making the organisation well-governed. According to Prof Baijnath “the organisation leverages its resources and capacities for maximum benefit and impact, which is very comforting to experience.”

One example of the CoL’s involvement in open distance learning includes the request by Unisa for the organisation to undertake a trial quality audit of the whole institution, in proactive preparation for the next cycle of institutional audits. The trial audit will help identify in advance any weaknesses in the institution’s quality system and ameliorate these. The institution can thereby undertake remedial steps before it is audited by the CHE.

Prof Baijnath highlighted the lessons from and the impact of technology in the governance of an organisation that only meets annually. The organisation deals with complex matters, all by teleconference, and this shows that it is possible to take decisions that affect the running of complex organisation by means of meetings held through teleconferences – it has been for the six years that he has been a member, either of the EXCO or Audit Committee of the CoL. Teleconference meetings minimise costs and achieve the same outcome as contact meetings would. Much can be learnt from COL’s success in helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training through the use of technology.

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


Council on Higher Education: Higher Education - Integrated Quality Assurance Framework (HE-IQAF)

By Prof Kethamonie Naidoo 

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) has embarked on a project to conceptualise an Integrated Quality Assurance Framework (IQAF) for the higher education sector. The CHE has long recognised the need for simplified, streamlined and more impactful quality assurance (QA) system at both the programme and institutional levels, with demonstrable value added to institutions of higher education (HEIs). The groundwork and consultations started in 2016 but progress was halted due to serious financial constraints facing the CHE. In early 2019 the CHE submitted a proposal to the DHET for seed funding to conceptualise the IQAF and the required funds were secured. It is now possible therefore to galvanise the project and steer it through to completion.

The project aims to develop a QA system that affords greater autonomy to institutions for managing the quality of their educational provision and simplified and integrated processes for the CHE’s assurance role. The intention is to create greater synergy between the internal quality assurance (IQA) systems and processes of the HEIs, and the external quality assurance (EQA) systems and processes of the CHE as the Quality Council for higher education and training, as mandated in the Higher Education Act (1997) as amended, and the NQF Act (2008) as amended. The project will examine the roles, functions, systems, capacity development needs and interactions between the CHE as the EQA body, and the IQA systems of the universities and other HIEs and will develop a new QA model drawing on international good practices but appropriate for the South African context.

Major shifts in quality assurance (QA) at both the programme and institutional levels have occurred internationally. Therefore, conducting relevant research and benchmarking the QA systems of other comparable countries to adequately ground proposed changes within these shifts will be a necessary first step in the project. An international and a local advisor will be included in the CHE’s panel of experts who will inform and steer the project. The Council of the CHE has established a Reference Group consisting of Council and HEQC members, that will also advise on the project. The conceptualisation of the HE-IQAF will be done through multiple working groups consisting of peers and the CHE directors working on different components of the HE-IQAF. Thus far the CHE has engaged or will be engaging with higher education stakeholder organisations such as the DHET, SAQA, USAf, HELTASA, SAAIR, SAPHE, APPETD, NRF and DST. These early engagements have provided the CHE with the opportunity to inform the above-mentioned organisations about the project and to receive from them valuable information about the needs of the sector and their recommendations for the project. They have also opened up for the CHE strong opportunities for collaboration and an efficient and effective way of engaging with the sector.

High on the agenda of the project is to devise a simpler and more streamlined process for the accreditation of programmes by the CHE and their registration by the Department of Higher Education and Training, and the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). Another priority is to finalise an agreement with professional bodies about their role in quality assuring professional programmes for the purpose of licensing the graduates to practice. 

The CHE recognises the need for capacity development in QA management at all levels of HEIs. Therefore, it will shortly be conducting a survey among HEIs to establish their capacities and capabilities for internal quality assurance. 

The IQAF project is being led by the CEO of the CHE, Prof Narend Baijnath, and Prof Kethamonie Naidoo, Director: Accreditation has been seconded to manage the project.

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


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

By Ms Selina Mokatsane 

Council on Higher Education and delegates from Botswana Qualifications Authority

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) hosted six (6) delegates from the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) on Monday, 27 May 2019 for what can be referred to as a benchmarking visit. The delegation from the BQA made the visit with the aim to acquire an understanding of the governance framework and management practices within the quality assurance systems in South Africa, including the funding of these systems. Another objective of the visit was to understand the core functions of the CHE, as well as the interlinkages and alignment between different quality assurance agencies and professional bodies in South Africa.  Among the delegation was the Acting CEO of the BQA, Ms Selebo Jobe.  

The BQA is responsible for the entire education system in Botswana. It is currently in transition and has 75% of all institutions registered under the new system. Since Botswana has a relatively small population, the BQA houses all the functions which in South Africa are distributed among SAQA and the three quality councils. Therefore, it is also responsible for its national qualifications framework popularly known as the Botswana National Credit and Qualifications Framework (NCQF) which, like in most Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, has ten levels. The NCQF has existed since 2016.

Prof Narend Baijnath, the CEO of the CHE, noted the importance of sustainable engagement sister bodies in the region and on the continent, as a means to establishing strategic partnerships at various levels within the African continent and across the world. This meeting was one such engagement for the harmonisation of efforts with northern parts of Africa that have proven helpful in the past. Having welcomed the delegation, Prof Baijnath provided an overview of the CHE in terms of its mandate and core functions, including a brief history of the South African landscape that led to its inception. South Africa was previously had a fragmented higher education system, and it was imperative after the dawn of democracy to move towards integrating the fragments into one higher education system. Accordingly, the year 1997 saw the promulgation of the Higher Education Act (Act No. 101 of 1997), which became the founding prescript for the Council on Higher Education. Following this, the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act (Act No. 67 of 2008) further elaborated on the role of the CHE as a quality council for higher education.

Prof Baijnath also explained that the CHE is unlike many quality assurance and accreditation bodies in that it also advises the Minister responsible for Higher Education and Training on any matter related to higher education at its own volition or upon request by the Minister. The CHE also monitors developments in higher education, and publishes the monitoring information or data periodically.

The meeting with the BQA delegation provided fruitful engagement and learning opportunity. It was also a step towards collaboration between the two agencies.

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


HSRC Seminar on Cognitive Development and Language in Education

By Sindisiwe Mbhele and Ms Selina Mokatsane

Source: HSRC website

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) hosted a language seminar on 28 May 2019, focusing on Cognitive Development and Language in Education. Hosted via video conferencing in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban respectively, the seminar was presented by Prof Crain Soudien, CEO of the HSRC, and Dr Michelle White from the Department of General Linguistics at Stellenbosch University. This was a second seminar in the Language in Education series aimed to continue the discussion on how to transform the South African education system by exploring more elaborate insights into the South African context and practices, to see how learners’ learning capacities can be enhanced.

The first speaker was Prof Crain Soudien who explained learner development and emphasised the importance of being cognisant of the nature-nurture debate. The second speaker, Dr Michelle White, presented the different cognitive development trajectories of pre-primary children at an English-medium school. Her findings showed that instead of focusing on the initial lack of English proficiency of the learners, it may be more viable to focus on other factors that influence their academic performance.

The Language in Education Seminar series is motivated by the need recognise the significant role that language can play in the transformation of the education system in South Africa. The first seminar of the series showed that one of the challenges to transformation in the education system is the bias towards monolingualism in South African education, which places learners for whom English proficiency is low, at a disadvantage. This was deemed a “deficit perspective” which the seminar sought to address through the two presentations by Prof Soudien and Dr White.

Prof Soudien outlined a theoretical framework for understanding why learning and reading are problematic issues in South Africa. He argued that some micro-genetic structures (SNPs or single-nucleotide polymorphisms) are expressed differently in each person due to the environment, and that these genetic structures are active in learning attainment. He explained how the external environment can have an impact on the brain. Prof Soudien introduced what he called the biopolitics of learning, a hypothesis that states that children between the ages of eight (8) and nine (9) experience trauma in the brain as result of being compelled to learn a second additional language at school. This is opposed to the idea of genetics, which supposes that learning a new language is pre-determined by our genetic code, in other words, that language acquisition is innate.

The focus of Dr White’s discussion was on multilingualism in the South African context. She explained that South Africa is linguistically and culturally diverse. Although comprising 11 official languages, English is the preferred medium of communication and instruction at schools. Parents enrol children at English-speaking schools based on their perception that the English language has social capital value, and therefore the parents want their children to be fluent speakers of the language. Even so, South African grade R classes comprise of learners with different levels of English proficiency.

Considering the varying levels of proficiency, Dr White explained the concept of working memory as having three different types . She argued that these different types of working memory function to predict the outcomes for academic skills, reading achievement, mathematical outcomes, computational outcomes, and language acquisition. Her research explored the growth trajectories of English competence for both English monolinguals and English Language Learners (ELL, these are learners for whom English is not a home language), and how this competence developed throughout the course of a year. The study explored the ability to learn.

The Language Seminar called for a different kind of discourse in terms of the politics of language in the country, which is to view the learner as an individual, albeit the challenge this poses in the classroom.

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


Siiyaphumelela Conference 2019

By Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

Left to right: Mr Ntokozo Bhengu (CHE), Dr Luyanda Marhaya (CHE) and Professor Clever Ndebele, Centre for

Teaching and Learning, WSU. 

This year’s Siyaphumelela Conference took place at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg from the 25 – 27 June 2019.   The conference provided a platform for experts from the international community and South African role players in the field of higher education data analytics to engage in conversations around evidence-based practices and national systemic interventions aimed at student successes. The conference also provided a platform for student voices to share on the challenges and experiences on student support services and the support mechanisms in place within their respective institutions.

The keynote address delivered by Kresge President and CEO, Rip Rapson, stated that the success of South Africa’s democratic experience is inextricably interwoven with the success of next generation South African higher education. Furthermore, the speaker alluded to the fact that South African universities will be a critical driver in stabilising our democracy, growing a future cadre of knowledge workers, evolving our national research, entrepreneurship, and innovation muscle, building and sustaining a middle-class, modernizing our infrastructure and ensuring balanced long-term economic growth.  

The conference noted several challenges pertaining to student success and these challenges are not confined to South Africa only. There were common challenges highlighted which are experienced by both South Africa and the United Sates’ education sector. Dr Karen Stout, one of the keynote speakers noted that it is important to have a shared vision and energy to implement student success interventions within the higher education sector.

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) was represented by Dr Luyanda Marhaya and Mr Ntokozo Bhengu.

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


Partnerships, Liaison and Advocacy 

By Office of the CEO

On 6 June 2019, a CHE delegation consisting of the CEO, Ms Olivia Mokgatle and Dr Sanele Nene undertook a support visit to the University of Venda. The CHE delegation met with the University’s Management, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni. The support visit was a success as it was characterised by honest and constructive engagement between the two sides in relation to quality matters, focusing particularly on the reasons for the university’s failure to take part in the planned pilot institutional audit.

On 26 and 27 June 2019, the CEO attended the 36th meeting of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth of Learning, where he was elected Deputy Chairperson of the Board for the coming financial year, and was also re-appointed as chairperson of the Audit Committee.

On 6 July 2019, a meeting was held between Profs Baijnath and Bawa [USAf] to reach common understanding on the accreditation of non-aligned qualifications and programmes, on pressures at the institutional level and what the CHE was doing to improve the situation.

On 11 July 2019 the CEO had a meeting with Mr Mkhize, the Director of Compliance, Ethics, Integrity, Anti-Corruption, Fraud Prevention, Risk Management in the  Department Higher Education and Training to discuss a serious fraud case regarding fake degrees and scholarships at tertiary institutions.

On 05 August 2019, the CEO attended the Chinese Embassy Function in Pretoria. The purpose was to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (1 October 1949) Over 200 representatives from South African government departments (such as DHET, DBE and DIRCO) and representatives from educational institutions attended.

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


International seminar on RPL for Professional Qualifications and Professional Designations

By Ms Sindisiwe Mbhele and Dr Christabelle Moyo

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Insurance Sector Education Training Authority (INSETA) jointly hosted an international seminar on RPL for professional qualifications and designations on 21 June 2019 at the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg, Johannesburg. The purpose of the seminar was to share ideas about the leading RPL practices in France and South Africa in relation to professional qualifications and designations.

The opening and welcome address was delivered by Mr Joe Samuels, the CEO of SAQA. He welcomed the keynote speaker, Dr Chakroun, who is the Director for the Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning at the UNESCO head office. A special welcome was also extended to Ms Nadia Starr, the CEO for INSETA. Mr Joe Samuels thanked INSETA for partnering with SAQA in hosting the seminar on RPL.

In his opening address, Mr Joe Samuels alluded to the fact that the seminar was a special event for SAQA as it marked 21 years since the NQF was adopted. He briefly highlighted the five (5) phases that the NQF had gone through. In relation to RPL, Mr Joe Samuels pointed out that the RPL concept has been in existence for 21 years. He was of the view that most South African institutions have accepted that RPL can be practised for access. Furthermore, he stated that all 105 professional bodies in South Africa have RPL policies in place. What remains as a key challenge is the implementation of the policies. The main focus of the seminar was therefore, to find ways of strengthening and implementing the RPL concept particularly for professional bodies. The SAQA CEO also spoke on the need to develop success models on RPL implementation by professional bodies and also to set guidelines to direct the process.

A presentation by Mr Nicholas Malebane from the South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professions highlighted some of the major challenges of implementing RPL. Among the challenges highlighted were high fees, which are currently pegged at R15 000.00 for each individual who would like to have his or her prior learning recognised, and lack of understanding on how to compile good Portfolio of Evidence (PoE) providing evidence for work experience, and tight working schedules. Some of the solutions proposed for these challenges included provision of RPL workshops, provincial roadshows, conducting RPL briefings and accepting “naturally occurring evidence”.

RPL: The French Perspective

In his keynote address, Dr Chakroun pointed out that in France, RPL or Validation of Prior Learning is a human right which ought to be accorded to every citizen. He made an observation that purpose of RPL is to help citizens obtain a qualification, either in whole or in part based on the knowledge and skills required in the particular discipline. He further stated that RPL can lead to individuals getting partial or full qualifications. The presenter went on to state that RPL is not only seen as an assessment process but is also regarded as a developmental process. Success in RPL is to some extent attributable to government’s involvement in the process. There is also a consensus among all social partners that RPL is good for socio-economic economic development. 

Dr Chakroun alluded to the fact that in France, candidates go through five (5) RPL stages. The stages mentioned were provision of information and guidance by neutral bodies; choice of appropriate qualifications that match candidates’ skills, knowledge and competencies; applying for funds; guidance and counselling and assessment and certification processes. Dr Chakroun was of the view that the process is lengthy and can take almost a year. Plans are underway to shorten the process.

Overall, France’s RPL process is mature and has been hailed by the presenter as a success.

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


Hosting delegates from the Tanzanian Commission for Universities (TCU)

By Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

Left to right: Mr Omari Shegila (TCU), Dr Kokuberwa Mollel (TCU), Prof Narend Baijnath (CHE, CEO), Dr Telemu Kassile (TCU) and Ms Roserine Joseph Rutta (TCU). 

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) continues to invest in mutually beneficial working relationships and building strategic partnerships within the African continent and internationally. On the 29 to 30 August 2019, the CHE welcomed delegates from the Tanzanian Commission for University Education (TCU) on a two-day official visit. This was an opportunity for both the CHE and TCU to learn and exchange experiences regarding various quality assurance mechanisms. The TCU delegates were welcomed to the CHE by Professor Narend Baijnath, CHE CEO, who took them through the mandate of the CHE, its governance structures and the various functions of the organisation. Importantly, Prof Baijnath highlighted to the TCU delegates the contextual and historical underpinning of the South African higher education system under which the CHE operates.     

The TCU was established in 2005 to replace the Higher Education Accreditation Council that was established in 1995 in Tanzania. The tripartite roles of TCU are to regulate, advise and support higher education in Tanzania. In order to effectively exercise its mandates and regulatory function, the Commission has three full Directorates responsible for Accreditation, Admissions and Data management and Corporate Services. The former being the core technical Departments while the latter supports the two departments and the Secretariat.  The purposes of the visit of the TCU delegates were to familiarise and share experiences with CHE regarding but not limited to accreditation/ re-accreditation of new and existing University institutions; procedure for accreditation of new academic programmes; recognition of qualifications obtained in and out of the country; admissions procedure; implementation of Recognition of  Prior Learning Programme; and Management of Higher Education Database to be specific. The two-day visit was a good opportunity to build a solid foundation for the CHE future interactions with the TCU.  Future interactions will be aimed at addressing specific issues and finding solutions to quality assurance related matters. Establishing the right relationships is critical for the betterment of our education system. The CHE is hoping for continued exchange of information with the TCU, moving forward.

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


CHE Research Colloquium: Enhancing Student Engagement for Good decision-making and Governance in Higher Education Institutions

By Dr Christabelle Moyo and Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

Following a successful hosting of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) Research Colloquium on Changes in Patterns of Student Governance on the 12 March 2019, the CHE hosted yet another successful Colloquium under the theme “Enhancing Student Engagement for Good Decision-Making and Governance in Higher Education Institutions”. It was held at the BCX Centre in Centurion, Pretoria, on the 31 July 2019. The aim of the Colloquium was to provide a platform for professionals and students involved in research and practice of student engagement, to take stock of the current research in, and good practice models of student engagement. Furthermore, the Colloquium was to serve as a forum at which the professionals and students involved in research and practice of student engagement could deliberate on matters relating to research, methodologies and findings with a view towards shaping a future research agenda on enhancing student engagement in the country. 

The Colloquium attracted participants representing the South African public and private higher education sector; delegates from various research institutions, student governance practitioners, delegates from professional bodies, and most importantly, student leaders.

The Colloquium was officially opened by Professor Narend Baijnath, the CEO of the CHE. In his opening speech, Prof Baijnath emphasised the fact that student governance is a crucial component of any institution’s governance structures and hence the need to engage students in finding solutions to challenges facing higher education. The opening remarks by Prof Baijnath set the tone for the colloquium.

CHE Research Colloquium Delegates

The keynote address titled “Meaningful and Impactful Student Engagement in the Post-#FMF Era: So, Where to?” was delivered by Dr Sibusiso Chalufu. Some of the key points raised by the presenter were that student engagement should be viewed holistically, not only as it refers to governance. Furthermore, the presenter was of the opinion that student engagement should encompass research involvement by students as well as meaningful community engagement. The presenter stressed the need for student engagement to be deep, properly constructed, meaningful and impactful.  In his closing remarks, Dr Chalufu pointed out that the questions that everyone involved with the higher education sector should be asking are: whether enough avenues and platforms have been created for student engagement, and whether students are provided with the necessary tools for use in engagement? 

Colloquium presentations and engagements mainly focused on how students can be supported to participate meaningfully in various governance structures. Various proposals were put forward as to how student engagement should be viewed in higher education institutions, how faculty and college structures should be strengthened to support student engagement, and the need to work as a collective to ensure student success.  Overall, the presentations were quite informative and focused. The delegates were actively engaged throughout the duration of the colloquium.

After the presentations, Dr Amani Saidi, the Acting Director for Monitoring and Evaluation informed all researchers of the need to work on their presentations for possible publication in the CHE’s Research Journal - Kagisano. He noted that Kagisanois a SeTswana word which means to support each other or to collaborate on key initiatives. It is for this reason that the CHE has the Kagisano, which serves as a medium for promoting collaboration between the CHE and external researchers in building knowledge and understanding of topical issues pertaining to higher education. The papers presented at the colloquium will undergo peer review, and only those that make the cut after the peer review process will be published.

In closing the Colloquium Dr Saidi, thanked all the presenters, delegates and colloquium organisers for all their contributions in making the colloquium a success. The Colloquium ended at 16:00.

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


2020 Quality promotion Conference - Theme: Enhancing Academic Success through the Involvement of Students in Quality Assurance and Promotion in Higher Education

By Quality Assurance and Promotion Coordination (QAPC)


CHE 2020 Quality Promotion Conference Digital banner

Following the successful hosting of third Southern African Regional Quality Assurance Conference under the auspices of the Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN) in 2016, the Southern African Regional Quality Assurance Workshop with the funding from the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD) in 2017, and Quality Promotion Conference in 2019, the CHE is pleased to release its first announcement of the 2020 Quality Promotion Conference which is 

scheduled to take place from 26 to 28 February 2020. The theme of the conference is: Enhancing Academic Success through the Involvement of Students in Quality Assurance and Promotion in Higher Education.

More details about the 2020 Quality Promotion Conference and Call for Abstracts is available on the CHE Conference website.

First Announcement:

Conference website:

All the information pertaining to the Council on Higher Education 2020 Quality Promotion Conference and the contact details of the organising committee is available on the links provided 

Staff Matters

By Ms Vuyo Matsam


The CHE hosted a memorial service on 10 July 2019, to pay their last respects to the late Dr Luke Mlilo, Senior Manager and Acting Director: Institutional Audits, who passed away on Friday, 05 July after a lengthy illness. He was on sick leave since the first week of February 2019 and was in the process of being medically boarded. Several members of his extended family attended the memorial service, as did numerous staff and former staff of the CHE. 


Ms Sindisiwe Mbhele

Ms. Sindisiwe Mbhele joined the Council on Higher Education on the 1st of April 2019 as an Intern. Ms Mbhele’s internship programme is fully funded by the National Research Foundation and will be hosted by the CHE from for a period of 24 months. She holds a Master of Education (MEd) degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, and is working on research and policy analysis with Dr Amani Saidi. 

Employee Wellness 

Left to right, Ms. Sindisiwe Mbhele, Prof Narend Baijnath, Mr. Eric Netshidzati, Mr. Ntokozo Bhengu and Ms. Lesego Machogo

Employee wellness is a critical component for a productive working environment.  As a means of keeping the CHE employees healthy and physically fit, the CHE takes part and supports its staff in various employee wellness activities. In 2019, CHE participated in the MTN Walk the Talk with 702, the most iconic walking event which takes place annually in Johannesburg. 

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



Ntokozo Bhengu Conquers Comrades 2019

By Ms Selina Mokatsane


The prestigious annual Comrades Marathon took place on 9 June 2019 in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The ultramarathon, which is for about 89 kilometres, had participants starting from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. Among the valiant runners was the CHE’s own Researcher and Stakeholder Liaison Officer, Mr Ntokozo Tk Bhengu. He has been into running as a hobby for the past 15 years. His initial inspiration for taking running as a hobby came from his high school Mathematics teacher, Mr John Stevens, who also run the Comrades marathon. He has since participated in three Comrades Marathons, since 2017 and is the proud recipient of a bronze medal from the 2019 race where he achieved his personal best (PB) of 10 hours and 25 minutes.

Ntokozo Bhengu attributes his success in completing the ultramarathons to his passion for the sport and for fitness, his immediate family, and his CHE family. His preparation typically begins ten months before the event, and entails rigorous training, a healthy diet and nurturing positive attitude and mental strength.  During this time, he runs a distance of 10 kilometres every morning, four times a week, and a total of 70 kilometres over the weekend.

On the mental preparation, Ntokozo Bhengu explains that it is just as important as physical fitness. A positive winning attitude is crucial, as he affirms: “You have to finish the race in your mind before you even start.” The marathon, although an individual race, is run with the spirit of comradeship. In light of this, Ntokozo Bhengu states that in a race like the Comrades, every runner next to you is dependent on you and vice versa. One should always be willing and ready to help, and most importantly, to build friendships along the way.

The highlight to Ntokozo Bhengu’s 2019 race was running alongside his former lecturer and Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who had completed the marathon ahead of him in 2018. This year the tables were turned and Ntokozo Bhengu managed to outdo his lecturer, which was a proud moment for him. Over and above the competition, it was a fun moment of camaraderie between the two, while the Comrades Marathon itself was a truly rewarding journey.

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