UKZN Hosts CHE Institutional Audit Workshop

Article source: UKZN Ndaba 

Director of Institutional Audits at CHE, Dr Britta Zawada.

UKZN’s University Teaching and Learning Portfolio hosted the Council on Higher Education’s (CHE) workshop on Institutional Audits as Reflexive Praxis (IARP) on 1 March 2022 with virtual and in-person attendees.

The workshop was designed to assist the University to finalise its Institutional Self- Evaluation Report (SER) and Portfolio of Evidence (PoE) due to be submitted to the  CHE by 15 July 2022. UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku notified the University community of the ongoing Institutional Audit as Reflexive Praxis (IARP) experience in July 2021.

In his welcome address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning Professor Sandile Songca said the IARP process, which started last year, has four focus areas. Focus Area 1 report, the Institutional Profile, is completed in draft form but Focus areas 2, 3 and 4 are ongoing. He said the University is working hard with the Colleges to gather evidence and, with students settling in, they will also be able to contribute to the rest of the focus areas. He said input from alumni and external stakeholders is also required.

The CHE’s IARP is designed for introspection and preparation. Taken as a whole, the four focus areas and 16 standards provide an avenue for individual and collective self-interrogation as a form of assessment and evaluation. The outcome of the UKZN IARP will determine whether the Institution’s quality management systems and the manner in which it assures the quality of those systems reveals UKZN as (1) non- functional, (2) needing substantial improvement, (3) functional or (4) mature. This determination will show how UKZN is perceived under the new South African Higher Education Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) which will be rolled out in 2024.

Director of Institutional Audits at CHE, Dr Britta Zawada presented an overview of the IARP, its principles, quality management and assurance in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), audits  with a review methodology, what takes place after the audit and how institutions can reflect on their IARP processes.

Zawada explained that during the IARP process, (a) HEIs must determine the time period for self-evaluation. Either a five-year or seven-year period is suggested. The time period must include the 2020/21 timeframe to report on how HEIs handled learning and teaching with the onset of the COVID pandemic. In the SER, (b) HEIs are given an opportunity to present narrative and evidence (PoE) to support how the 16 standards of IARP are being addressed. HEIs must (c) reflect on the IARP process itself with evidence; and (d) the SER must be an honest but constructive report supported by credible evidence in the PoE.

Once the draft IA report by the panel has been approved by CHE, HEIs would need to submit an IA improvement plan to the HEQC based on the recommendations with timeframes, and subsequent regular reporting.

Zawada highlighted the do's and don’ts of gathering evidence and presenting the report, and said a good SER must be recognised by every member of the University community and reflect staff and students’ realities. Songca added that ‘this is why it is critical for all students and staff – academics and professional services staff, to contribute to the Professional Services Working Group and the four College Working Groups. We will soon have a dedicated IARP website for deeper engagement. Meanwhile, please contact Ms Corlia Ogle on to share your current quality management and quality assurance experiences'.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photograph: Albert Hirasen