In the year under review the Council bid farewell to its Chief Executive Officer, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, who left in early November 2009 to take up the post of Vice-Chancellor at the University of Pretoria. This was a major loss to the Council as Professor De la Rey in her short tenure as Chief Executive Officer had contributed to the revitalisation of the advisory function of the CHE and strengthened its governance and management systems. I would like to acknowledge and thank Professor De la Rey for her contribution and wish her all the best in her tenure as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pretoria.
The appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer took longer than anticipated and, in the interim, the Council asked Professor Rolf Stumpf, who is both a Council member and the Chairperson of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), to serve as Acting Chief Executive Officer. I would like to express the Council's gratitude to Professor Stumpf for stepping in and providing a steady hand, which allowed the operations of the CHE to continue without disruption.
I am therefore pleased to report that the Council and all its committees, including the HEQC (which is a permanent committee responsible for quality assurance), have functioned effectively in terms of our statutory mandate and adherence to the principles of good governance, as reflected in an unqualified audit report.
I am also pleased to report that the Council appointed Mr Ahmed Essop as Chief Executive Officer with effect from May 2010. I would like to welcome Mr Essop on behalf of the Council and wish him all the best in what we hope will be a long and mutually rewarding association with the CHE. The CHE continued in the past year to contribute to the development of higher education policy by providing advice to the Minister of Higher Education and Training and through publications and seminars on a range of issues, including the role of the universities of technology, access and throughput, student engagement and success, community engagement and the general state of higher education in South Africa.
Similarly, the HEQC has consolidated its work on quality assurance processes following the external review of the HEQC in 2008. This included strengthening the focus of the accreditation process in relation to curriculum and teaching and learning issues, enhancing the online accreditation system and initiating a Teaching Excellence Award jointly with the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of South Africa (HELTASA).
In the area of institutional audits, the HEQC has completed the planned work for this year and engaged a number of higher education institutions on their post-audit improvement plans. Furthermore, in line with, and to give effect to, its new mandate as the Quality Council for Higher Education in line with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act 67 of 2008, the CHE initiated research to facilitate the development of a conceptual framework for standards setting, which will be taken forward in the 2010/11 financial year.
I am also pleased to report that the CHE has moved to its new premises in Persequor Technopark without any major disruption to its work.
I would like to thank all the staff for their hard work, dedication and commitment, which has enabled the Council to fulfil its mandate, including receiving once again an unqualified audit report. In the year ahead, we look forward to engaging with the Ministry and Department of Higher Education and Training regarding the Ministry's priorities and the role the Council could play in contributing to the transformation and strengthening of the higher education system.