Towards a Framework for the Monitoring and Evaluation of South African Higher Education



The Council on Higher Education (CHE) is an independent, statutory body established in terms of the Higher Education Act of 1997. The mission of the CHE is to contribute to the development of a higher education system that is characterised by equity, quality, responsiveness, and effective and efficient provision and management. The CHE makes this contribution by providing advice on higher education policy issues to the Minister of Education, through the quality assurance activities of its Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), and various other important activities.



One of the key ‘other’ activities is the monitoring and evaluation of important areas of and issues in higher education, of the performance of higher education with regard to the achievement of policy goals and objectives and of developments in the economy, polity and society that impact on higher education.



The responsibility to monitor and evaluate higher education is accorded to the CHE by the 1997 White Paper on higher education. It is also a natural outgrowth of this responsibility for the CHE to produce regular reports on the state of South African higher education. Finally, the ability of the CHE to provide informed, considered, independent, strategic and proactive advice on higher education issues to the Minister of Education depends on its capacity to identify the key issues and developments in higher education as well as in the wider society that may affect the higher education system. In all these regards, a strong capability to monitor and evaluate key areas of and issues in higher education as well as specific economic, social and political developments is vitally important.



During the past year the CHE has been involved in a process of research and development that has drawn on local and international specialists to produce an effective framework for the monitoring and evaluation of higher education. This CHE discussion document Towards a Framework for the Monitoring and Evaluation of South African Higher Education now presents for public discussion and comment a proposed framework to monitor and evaluate South African higher education.



The discussion document



  • Outlines the purpose and objectives of the CHE Monitoring and Evaluation System, and relates its goals to a review of local imperatives in higher education and international trends;

  • Locates the need for monitoring and evaluation in the context of a far-reaching process of restructuring and transformation of South African higher education;

  • Explicates key concepts such as ‘monitoring’ and ‘evaluation’, and the relationship and difference between these concepts and activities;

  • Explicates key concepts such as ‘monitoring’ and ‘evaluation’, and the relationship and difference between these concepts and activities;

    • For the development of specific monitoring indicators in the domains of teaching and learning, research, and community service;

    • For conducting research on and evaluating change in the higher education system in terms of the desired outcomes of the transformation of the South African higher education system, i.e. equity, quality, responsiveness and efficiency, as well as in relation to broader socio-economic trends;

    • That is mindful that the outcomes of policy implementation may or may not be as intended;

    • That analyses policy intentions and associated policy instruments, and the national and disparate institutional contexts within which policy is implemented;

    • That takes into account paths to change and provides explanations about success, deviation, and failure of policy and policy implementation;

    • That is geared towards providing a deeper understanding of the modalities, pace and contradictions of change in higher education at both the systemic and the institutional level;

    • That does not burden higher education institutions with new demands for data, but builds progressively on existing data, capacities and experiences and forges links with existing databases of the Department of Education (such as HEMIS) and of other government departments, of statutory bodies (such as the National Research Foundation, the Human Sciences Research Council and Statistics South Africa), and of the HEQC.


  • Focuses on the implementation process, and the arrangements and further developments that are necessary to ensure the success of the CHE Monitoring and Evaluation System;

  • Gives attention to the dissemination and utilisation of monitoring and evaluation information by intended users. The participation of key higher education role-players in the further and ongoing development and implementation of the CHE Monitoring and Evaluation system is a necessary condition for its success as well as for the achievement of high levels of utilisation of the results of monitoring and evaluation.




Professor Saleem Badat
Chief Executive Officer, CHE
Pretoria, April 2004