Annual Report of the Council on Higher Education 2013/2014

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October, 2014

Foreword

CHAIRPERSON’S MESSAGE

It was a great honour for me to be appointed as the Chairperson of the Council by the Minister of Higher Education and Training in July 2013. My association with the Council on Higher Education (CHE) goes back to its inception when I was seconded to assist in establishing the then Audit and Evaluation division of the Council and working on the Accreditation framework for the system with colleagues. I am particularly pleased to be coming back to the CHE at a time when developments in the policy environment provide the opportunity to re-visit the role of the higher education system in the context of the policy framework for Post-School Education and Training as outlined in the White Paper that was released in November 2013 by the Cabinet of the Republic of South Africa. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Letticia Moja for her stewardship of the Council as Acting Chairperson between January and July 2013. Her contribution ensured the stability of the governance arrangements of the CHE. The administrative, financial and governance systems of the Council are on a sound footing. This is evidenced by the fact that the Council has once again received an unqualified audit report from the Auditor-General. However, although there are minor irregularities of a housekeeping nature, the findings in the management letter suggest that there is room for improvement in the monitoring of internal controls, which are being addressed by management. The Council has made significant progress in the year under review. As reported elsewhere, the implementation of a range of new projects, in particular, in relation to the improvement teaching and learning, remain a key challenge in higher education. This is reflected in poor throughput and graduation rates across the system as we have seen over the years. In this regard, the Quality Enhancement Project, which was launched in February 2014 and the proposals for the reform of the undergraduate curriculum, are bold and exciting interventions, which would contribute to ensuring that teaching and learning are put at the forefront of the institutional agenda for change in higher education. The Higher Education Quality Committee has been hard at work to sharpen our focus on the teaching and learning arrangements, the credibility of our accreditation system, following up on quality audits and promoting quality across the system. Council had a strategic planning workshop at the end of March 2014 facilitated by an external expert to reflect on the contemporary challenges that confront higher education and the role of the Council in contributing to addressing the identified challenges. Although there was agreement that the overall thrust and direction of the Council addressed the challenges, it was felt that greater attention needed to be paid to strengthening the relationship with Department of Higher Education and Training in building a robust higher education system in this country. The visibility of the CHE was identified as one of the areas of improvement as we work towards achieving the main policy objectives of a post-school education and training system. The Council continues to collaborate with the South African Qualifications Authority, the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations, in implementing the National Qualifications Framework, including the priorities identified by the Minister with regard to the Recognition of Prior Learning, Credit Accumulation and Transfer and Assessment. The Council has also been active in collaborating and providing support to quality assurance agencies in the Southern African region and intends strengthening this aspect of its work, including broadening it across the Continent. In conclusion, I would like to thank all the members of Council, including its standing and subcommittees, as well as the staff, for their commitment, dedication and hard work that enabled the CHE to successfully discharge its mandate. I would like to thank our higher education partners - universities and private higher education institutions, for their support in ensuring the success of our many initiatives and/or programmes by enabling our peers to participate in the work of the CHE. We also thank the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Honourable Dr B.E. Nzimande and his Department for monitoring the CHE’s performance and participation in our governance structure. Finally, our thanks go to the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education for the oversight and guidance they have provided to the Council on Higher Education in the past year. Professor Themba Mosia Chairperson