CHE Advice to the Minister of Higher Education on Undergraduate Curriculum


South Africa has a pressing need for more graduates with the knowledge and high-level skills necessary to take forward all forms of social and economic development. It also needs more graduates to build up the education system itself by providing a new generation of teachers, college lecturers, academics and education leaders. This is acknowledged in the National Development Plan (2011) and the White Paper on Post-School Education and Training: Building an Effective, Expanded and Integrated Post-School System (2013). Much progress has been made in the last twenty years towards achieving greater access to higher education and an increase in South Africa’s graduate output. However, there still exist major shortcomings in terms of overall numbers, the skewed demographic profile of the graduate complement and the proportion of the student body that succeeds. Too few higher education students in undergraduate programmes succeed in completing a programme in the time for which it was designed – on average only 27% - and too few complete at all. That approximately half the students who enter higher education do not complete a qualification means that a key strategic national objective, that is, to produce enough graduates who are well-prepared for the changing demands of society and the economy in the 21st century, remains unfulfilled. It is also unacceptably costly in both human and financial terms. It is against this background that the Council on Higher Education (CHE) in 2012 established a Task Team to investigate the desirability and feasibility of introducing systemic reform in the curriculum of the major undergraduate qualifications,