The Higher Education Qualifications Framework was promulgated in 2007 and since then institutions of higher education have been redesigning their qualifications in accordance with the new Framework. Since 1 January 2009, all new programmes submitted to the HEQC for accreditation have been required to be compliant with the HEQF, and accordingly, in processing applications for new programmes in the candidacy phase, the HEQC has applied the provisions and parameters of the HEQF in its accreditation processes. The nascent implementation process revealed that despite the robust nature of the design of the HEQF, there were a number of areas of difficulty or contestation relating to the Framework which suggested that a review would be expedient. In response to stakeholder input, and in line with the original intention to review the Framework three years into the implementation phase as suggested by the HEQC (CHE Advice to the Minister of Education, April 2007), the CHE initiated a review process in 2010 (Communiqué 1, 12 October 2010). Submissions were called for from the higher education sector, professional bodies, stakeholders and other interested parties on various inconsistencies and problems that need to be addressed for the overall objectives of the policy to be achieved, including:
- The appropriateness of the nine qualification types, including the designated variants, in the light of different institutional missions and labour market expectations, in particular, the lack of a degree variant unique to the Universities of Technology.
- The coherence and consistency in the designation, credit value and pegging of some qualifications in the context of the needs of different professions, in particular, the lack of 240-credit diplomas, which may be required, for example, in a range of auxiliary health professions.
- The articulation pathways between undergraduate diploma and postgraduate programmes in terms of the time required to complete a Master's degree, for example, a student with an undergraduate Diploma would require two additional years of study prior to being considered for entry into a Master's programme.
- The appropriateness of a number of postgraduate qualifications in different professional fields and their international comparability such as the MMed.
- The extent to which the range of qualifications available, in particular, at levels 5 and 6 are appropriate to support the goal of expanded access.
The deadline for submissions was 10 December 2010. The Communiqué emphasised that the purpose of the review process was not to fundamentally revise the HEQF but to consider whether it is necessary to provide for new qualification types to facilitate access, and to make changes to ensure the HEQF allows for responsiveness to emerging skills and knowledge needs and to enhance the coherence of the higher education system. In this discussion document the issues raised and suggestions made have been consolidated and the CHE's response and proposals for revising the HEQF are outlined. Subsequent to the approval of the proposals by the Council, they have been discussed with representatives of public and private higher education institutions in an informal consultation process.