It gives me great pleasure to present the 10th Annual Report of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) for submission to Parliament through the Minister of Education. This Report presents the work and progress of the CHE in the execution of its statutory responsibilities for the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008.
The CHE is an independent statutory body established by the Higher Education Act (ACT 101 of 1997). Its areas of responsibility are:
- to advise the Minister of Education on request or proactively on all higher education policy issues;
- to assume executive responsibility for quality assurance and quality promotion within higher education;
- to monitor and evaluate whether and how higher education policy goals are being realised, including reporting regularly on the state of higher education in South Africa; and
- to contribute to the development of higher education through a range of activities, including conferences, seminars and publications.
During the period under review the CHE and its permanent subcommittee responsible for quality assurance, the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) were able to complete their schedule of work most satisfactorily in spite of changes at the leadership and executive levels.
I wish to thank my predecessor Mr Saki Macozoma, who was initially appointed as Chairperson in 2002, for his insightful and considered leadership at a time when there were significant changes in the South African higher education landscape. Also in 2007, Dr Mala Singh departed to take up a professorship at The Open University. At the time of her departure, she was Interim Chief Executive Officer but she had served the CHE since its inception as Executive Director of its Higher Education Quality Committee. The Council is deeply appreciative of Dr Singh’s significant contribution particularly in quality assurance, and we wish her well in her new role.
The CHE’s 10th Annual Report bears testimony to the organisation’s ability to build on its strengths and to continue to discharge its core functions in a professional and efficient manner. In the past year, the Council advised the Minister of Education, Mrs Naledi Pandor, on a range of issues affecting higher education, including the entrance requirements stipulated in the National Senior Certificate. Towards the end of 2007, the CHE had a special meeting with the Minister and officials of the Department of Education to discuss areas for further attention which had been identified through the work of the CHE’s Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate and the HEQC. This discussion will inform the work of the CHE in the coming year.
The achievements described in this report would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the CHE staff. Thank you to all staff members and a special note of appreciation to Dr Lis Lange (Acting CEO) and Dr Jan Beukes, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), for keeping the organisation on course during its period of leadership transition.
In marking the first decade of the CHE’s work it is fitting to pay tribute to the contribution of previous Council Members and Chairpersons, including past members of the HEQC. The CHE has made an important contribution to the higher education sector through its advice, monitoring and quality assurance activities.
We look forward to the year ahead and the future with confidence. I am delighted to report that Professor Cheryl de la Rey takes up the position of Chief Executive Officer from the beginning of May. With her at the helm, we are confident that in the next decade the CHE will build on its strengths, address new challenges and thereby make a significant impact on higher education in South Africa.
Professor Chabani Manganyi,
Council on Higher Education