The Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF) assigns to the CHE the responsibility for developing standards for all higher education qualifications. The CHE must ensure that such qualifications meet the criteria of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) for registration on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in terms of section 1(f)(ii) of the Higher Education Act as amended.
The HEQSF requires that standards must have legitimacy, credibility and a common, well-understood meaning, and they must provide benchmarks to guide the development, implementation and quality assurance of programmes leading to qualifications.
The role of the CHE as the Quality Council for Higher Education means that its responsibility for standards should proceed alongside its other statutory responsibilities in the areas of quality assurance, including the accreditation and re-accreditation of programmes, institutional reviews, and national reviews. The co-existence of all these responsibilities in the same body puts the CHE in a privileged position to advance the objectives of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) within the higher education system.
One of the roles of the Directorate is to develop policy and a framework for qualification standards, including adapting the standards to qualification types, academic fields and disciplines, with the aim of informing and guiding the development, registration and publication of qualifications.
The CHE proposes a limited approach to standards development, focusing in the first instance on standards relating to the generic qualification types in the revised HEQSF and, secondly, on standards relating to the broad subject fields aligned with the Classification of Educational Subject Matter (CESM) categories that are used by the DHET for funding purposes.
The CHE will rely to a great extent on academic expertise in the relevant fields or disciplines, since the focus is on the purpose, outcomes and graduate attributes that characterize specific knowledge fields and disciplines. The Directorate will engage experts groups in the development of qualification standards. The CHE will establish a Standards Advisory Committee, comprising representatives of the higher education sector, to advise the CHE on the coordination of the standards development project, and to provide advice on the validity, consistency and compatibility of the standards developed by various expert groups.
Emphasis is also placed on the need for standards development at a national level to recognize and accommodate the need for institutional autonomy in respect of the design, delivery, assessment and evaluation of institutional programmes leading to qualifications on the HEQSF.
CHE>Focus Areas>Standards Development> Framework
To give effect to its mandate, the CHE has developed a Framework for Qualification Standards in Higher Education. A first draft of the Framework was sent to all parties in the higher education sector on December 2011, with an invitation for the submission of comments. A Summary of Submissions and CHE Responses was subsequently circulated. Institutional and other comments, concerns and recommendation were taken into account in the preparation of a second draft of the Framework, which was endorsed by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) on February 2013 and approved by the Council in March 2013.
CHE>Focus Areas>Standards Development> Qualification Standards
The expanded CHE mandate includes the development of standards for qualifications in higher education. A qualification standard is a generic statement of the learning domains, the level of achievement and the graduate attributes that characterise, and are required for the award of the qualification. They set out expectations about standards of qualifications in a range of fields of study, describing what gives a discipline its distinctiveness. National qualification standards provide both compliance benchmarks and developmental indicators for qualification types as awarded in particular fields of study or disciplines.
Qualification Standards final version: