The CHE is an independent statutory body established by the Higher Education Act of 1997. Its mandate areas are:
- Advising the Minister of Education on request or pro-actively on all higher education policy issues
- Assuming executive responsibility for quality assurance and quality promotion within higher education
- Monitoring and evaluating whether and how higher education policy goals are being realized, including reporting regularly on the state of higher education in South Africa
- Contributing to the development of higher education through a range of activities, including conferences, seminars and publications.
This is the 9th Annual Report of the CHE for submission to Parliament through the Minister of Education. This Annual Report covers the financial year April 2006 - March 2007 and presents the work and progress of the CHE in the execution of its mandatory responsibilities.
As chairperson of the CHE, I am pleased to signal the satisfaction of the Council with the performance and achievements of the organisation, including its quality assurance committee, the HEQC. In spite of a number of potentially destabilizing events, the organization completed its schedule of work at the expected high levels of professionalism and efficiency. In the past year, the founding CEO of the organization, Prof. Saleem Badat, left the CHE to take up the position of Vice-Chancellor at Rhodes University. In addition, the period under review saw a new CHE being instituted with a mix of new members as well as some members of the previous Council to ensure a balance of new direction-setting and continuity in the work of the Council. It was also a year when the Minister of Education signalled very clearly to the CHE her priorities in higher education and her interest in the CHE contributing to a better understanding of the performance of the higher education system in respect of key policy goals. The Council, the HEQC Board and the Secretariat are already busy with the development of a programme of work that will respond directly to emerging priorities in the higher education system in addition to maintaining the Council's routine functions and tasks.
On behalf of the Council, I would like to record my gratitude and appreciation for the invaluable contribution made by Prof. Badat to conceptualizing and shaping the work and identity of the CHE since its inception. His passionate commitment to the development of higher education in this country, the vision and intellectual rigour that he brought to the work of the CHE, and the networks that he helped to forge in order to maximize the impact of the CHE's work have laid critically important foundations for the current and future work of the Council.
The departure of Prof. Badat and the difficulties experienced in filling the CEO position would have left the CHE in a leadership vacuum had it not been for the willingness of the Executive Director of the HEQC, Dr Mala Singh, to step in as Interim CEO. On behalf of the Council, I would also like to express my appreciation for the commitment, integrity and generosity with which Dr Singh provided intellectual leadership for this organization for most of the reporting period.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing members of the CHE for their valuable contribution to shaping the work of the CHE in the last four years. My thanks also go to the members of the current Council and the HEQC Board, the dedicated and hardworking Secretariat, and all other external collaborators and partners for their immense and highly professional contribution to the work of the CHE and the HEQC.
It has been my privilege to have been associated with the work of the CHE since my appointment as Chairperson in 2002. In the period since then, I have seen the CHE build on its strengths as an organisation that discharges its mandate in an intellectually rigorous, efficient and consultative way. It has made its distinctive mark as a significant organization which has impacted on the higher education system through its advice, monitoring and quality assurance activities. As outgoing Chairperson, I am confident that the CHE's tradition of professionalism, dedication to its work in the service of social development and social justice, and interactive style with key stakeholders will continue into the future. My every good wish for its continuing valuable contribution to the development of South African higher education and South African society.
Council on Higher Education