CHE NEWSLETTER - QUALITY MATTERS Volume 1, Issue No.10 - September 2018

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September, 2018
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Chief Executive Officer’s Overview



Prof Narend Baijnath

Welcome to the September 2018 issue of Quality Matters, the official newsletter of the Council on Higher Education (CHE). Among the regular articles is one that reflects on some of the stakeholder engagement initiatives in the organisation including the meeting with the Board of South African Technology Network (SATN) and the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) Network University (NU) conference that was held in Cape Town in July, 2018.

As there is only one year left out of the five-year period covered in the current Strategic Plan, the organisation is already looking ahead towards crafting a new Strategic Plan for the period 2020 - 2025. To this end a joint Council and HEQC Strategic Planning retreat took place on 28 June 2018 followed by a meeting Council on 29 June 2018, and there are highlights of these events in this issue of the newsletter. There is also a report on activities of some of the Committees of Council.

The newsletter also carries an announcement of a Quality Promotion Conference which is being organised to take place in February 2019 under the theme: “Promoting Academic Integrity in Higher Education”. The conference is indeed a key step towards starting to understand matters of fraud and other forms of integrity breaches that are threatening the credibility of the higher education system, not just in South Africa, but globally as well.

As an organisation, the CHE values opportunities for honest engagement with key stakeholders to ensure that the CHE understands the expectations of the stakeholders, and that the latter also appreciate the due diligence required in the CHE processes. Such understanding and appreciation reduces the risk of unnecessary tensions between the two sides, while increasing unity of purpose. This issue of the CHE newsletter reports on two meetings that the CHE held with representatives of higher education institutions to discuss matters related to programme accreditation.

The CHE is a founding member of the Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN) whose objectives are to promote quality in higher education in Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states, foster harmonisation of quality assurance systems in the region and beyond, and facilitate international recognition of higher education qualifications from the SADC countries in order to enhance the mobility of staff and students. The CHE is also working with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), the Quality Council for the Trades and Occupations (QCTO), Umalusi, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) as well as the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on aligning the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to the SADC Qualification Framework (SADCQF). In this newsletter there is an article that provides an update on the developments regarding the SADCQF.

 We include a report from the National Advisory Council on Innovation, and another on the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) Institute held 15-16 August, 2018 in Cape Town.

The CHE encourages its staff to seize all available opportunities for self-and professional development, an example of which is the initiative of the Quality Assurance and Promotion Coordination Directorate to link up with the Wiley Academy in order to access Wiley Academy’s vast online resources on the development of research and academic writing skills. An article in this newsletter provides an overview of this initiative, and another article reports about stakeholder training workshops facilitated by the Programme Accreditation Directorate.

In the last few of issues of the newsletter, it was indicated that the CHE plans to re-introduce institutional audits and that the development of the methodology for the next cycle of the institutional audits was under way. In this issue of the newsletter, there is a piece that provides an update about plans to pilot the new methodology at a number of institutions that have volunteered to take part.

In closing, the newsletter has a regular piece on staff matters within the CHE.

As always, stakeholders are encouraged to read through the newsletter and, where possible, provide feedback to the CHE regarding articles of interest to them. The CHE would also welcome feedback on how the newsletter can be improved as a platform for communicating and engaging with stakeholders.

With best wishes.

Narend Baijnath

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


CHE Governance

Professor Narend Baijnath

Following the joint Council and HEQC retreat held on 29 June 2018, a full Council meeting was held on 29 June 2018. Council deliberated on the outcomes of the joint Council and HEQC retreat  and resolved that a small task team be convened with the support of Senior Management to distil a roadmap and specific actions for the next planning period that would inform short to medium term planning on a one, three and five year timeframes. Members of the Task Team members are Profs Mala Singh, Mvuyo Tom, Robert Balfour, Angina Parekh and Narend Baijnath;  and Drs Siphokazi Moeng and Denyse Webbstock. The Task Team was convened on Friday 20 July 2018 and began its work with a view to tabling a submission at the September 2018 meeting of Council. The Council and the HEQC Task Team met for the second time on 01 August 2018. A discussion document, and analysis of the resource and capacity deployment of the CHE currently, have been prepared.

On the 24 July 2018, the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) of the CHE met to consider the next iteration of the annual report, the AG’s management letter, the CHE’s funding situation, the first quarterly report for the current financial year and the Audit plan for the next triennium, amongst others.

The Nominations and Governance Committee (NGC) met on 16 August 2018 to approve or recommend the following;

  1. Appointment of one member of HEQC ;
  2. Appointment of the Chairperson of the Institutional Audit Committee (IAC);
  3. Appointment of the representatives of Council on the HEQC and the Human Resources and Remunerations Committee (HRRC);
  4. Request to co-opt one new member of Council;
  5. Appointment of the one member of Council to serve on Nominations Governance Committee NGC);
  6. Nomination of an alternative representative of the CHE on the South African Geometrics Council (SAGC);
  7. Nomination of a representative of the CHE on the National Research Foundation (NRF) Board,
  8. Appointment of additional four members of the National Standard and Reviews (NSRC);
  9. Appointment of additional four members of the Accreditation Committee (AC); and
  10. Approval of the List of Peer Academics (Auditors) for Pilot Institutional Audits, February/March 2019.

On the 21 August 2018, the HRRC met to ratify the report from the Performance Management Moderation Committee (PMMC).

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Partnerships, Liaison and Advocacy

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

On 19 July 2018, the CEO of the CHE met with the CEO and members of the Board of the South African Technology Network (SATN) to receive a briefing on the preparations and progress on the non-aligned programmes, as well as to her them on the concerns they had regarding the CHE’s turnaround times in processing applications for programme accreditation from submission to approval. The analysis which SATN had undertaken showed that the bulk of the submissions were processed within nine (9) months, with a few going up to thirteen months. SATN expressed a concern about whether the CHE would be able to assist institutions to meet the December 2019 deadline for non-aligned programmes, given the CHE’s resource and capacity constraints. A view expressed was that the Minister should be requested to extend the deadline by a year so that institutions would have sufficient time for internal processes finalising the development of new programmes to replace the ones that are not aligned to the HEQSF.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:   


Clean audit for the 2017/18 financial year

Mr Eric Netshidzati  

In 2018, the AGSA audited the following: 

The financial statements of the Council on Higher Education (CHE), which comprise the statement of financial position as at 31 March 2018, and the statement of financial performance, statement of changes in net assets, and cash flow statement and statement of comparison of budget and actual amounts for the year then ended, as well as the notes to the financial statements, including a summary of significant accounting policies.

The reported performance information of the CHE for the 2017/18 financial year against predetermined objectives for selected objectives presented in the 2017/18 annual performance report. 

Image 1: CHE Team 

Image 2: (Left to right) Mr Thulaganyo Mothusi (CHE CFO), Ms Vuyo Matsam (CHE Director: Corporate Services), Ms Fairhope Thuli Ndlovu (AGSA), Prof Narend Baijnath (CHE CEO) and Mr Eric Netshidazti (CHE Organisational Secretary) 

The purpose of the audit was to: 

Determine whether the financial statements presented fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Council on Higher Education as at 31 March 2018, and financial performance and cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with South African Standards of Generally Recognised Accounting Practice (SA Standards of GRAP) and the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act of South Africa, 1999 (Act No. 1 of 1999) (PFMA).

Imgae 3: Ms Fairhope Thuli Ndlovu (AGSA) and Professor Narend Baijnath (CHE CEO)

Determine whether the reported performance information was properly presented and whether the performance was consistent with the approved performance planning documents. Further procedures were performed to determine whether the indicators and related targets were measurable and relevant, and assessed the reliability of the reported performance information to determine whether it was valid, accurate and complete.

After finalising the audit process for the 2017/18 financial year, the AGSA concluded that the CHE has achieved a clean audit.

During the Staff Meeting held on 19 September 2018, Ms Fairhope Thuli Ndlovu from the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) handed over a trophy and a certificate of achievements to Professor Narend Baijnath, the CEO of the CHE as evidence that the CHE has indeed achieved a clean audit. Group photos of staff members standing around the trophy were also taken.

A joint effort of the CHE Management, all staff members, internal/external auditors and governance committee members made it possible for the CHE to achieve a clean audit.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Conferences and workshops

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

From 5 to 7 July 2018, the CEO of the CHE attended the BRICS (Brazil- Russia-India-China-South Africa) Network University (NU) Conference in Cape Town, and chaired the second day’s proceedings. The conference was organised by the Ministry of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in association with Stellenbosch University (SU). The theme for 2018 was, “Unlocking BRICS Universities’ Partnerships: Postgraduate Education Opportunities and Challenges”. The aim was to develop and consolidate the BRICS education agenda, and to highlight strategic research areas for collaboration with a view to gain a comparative advantage in the global knowledge system. The objective was to provide a platform for the BRICS countries, particularly the leaders of International Thematic Groups (ITGs), to share research experiences and country-specific insights in these knowledge fields, and to explore possibilities for leveraging the cooperative force of BRICS UN to enhance scientific knowledge in the six thematic areas.

BRICS NU identified six thematic areas for the conference, namely: Energy; Computer Science and Information Security; Ecology and Climate Change; Economics; Water Resources and Pollution Treatment; and BRICS Studies.

On 18 July 2018, the CEO delivered a keynote address, and participated in a panel discussion during the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Africa Conference held at the Coastlands Conference Centre in Durban co-hosted by SATN, the National Skills Authority and Durban University of Technology. The theme of the conference was, “WIL: Policy to Implementation”. The following were some of the key focuses of the conference:

  • WIL Successes Challenges and creative solutions
  • Integrated Perspectives to enhancing employability
  • WIL Curriculum issues including assessment, decolonization of education, etc. 

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Accreditation Matters

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

On 14 July 2018, Professor Narend Baijnath, CEO of the CHE together with the Director: Programme Accreditation (Professor Kethamonie Naidoo), met with Dr Gerald Ouma and Dr Sanette Boshoff to discuss the registration of category A HEQSF-Aligned qualifications of the University of Pretoria.

On 17 August 2018, Professor Narend Baijnath accompanied by the Director: Programme Accreditation, Professor Kethamonie Naidoo, held another meeting with Professor Mahlomaholo and his delegation from Walter Sisulu University (WSU) to discuss the accreditation status of the BHSc (Orthotics and Prosthetics) and a number of WSU qualifications that have been submitted to the Council on Higher Education (CHE).

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:   


Joint Council and HEQC Strategic Planning Retreat in Pictures 

Dr Phumzile Dlamini

The joint Council and HEQC retreat was held on 28 June 2018 at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre, Boksburg, Gauteng. Participants included Members of Council and of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), as well as Directors at the CHE. Among others, the objective of the workshop was to explore options for revitalising the CHE to be responsive to identified priorities within its capacities and resources. In doing this, Council and the HEQC sought to reflect on first, the changed context of the CHE considering when it was first established and the current state. Key developments and trends in the international and national higher education landscapes and their implications for the mandate, functions and priorities of the CHE as well as the contextual and contemporary forces impacting on the work of the CHE were another area of focus.  The Chairperson of Council, Professor Themba Mosia, opened the day’s proceedings with some welcome remarks. He also facilitated a round of introductions.  The event was facilitated by Professor Ihron Rensburg. The process followed is summarised in Figure 1. Highlights of the event are captured in images 1-8.

           Figure 1: Summarized process of the workshop



Image 4: Professor Themba Mosia giving welcoming remarks 

Image 5: Professor Narend Baijnath

Image 6: Professor Ahmed Bawa gives the keynote address

Image 7: Mr Luzuko Buku responds to the keynote address

Image 8: Professor John Mubangizi (HEQC Chair) makes remarks

Image 9: the facilitator guides participants through the process

Image 10: Some of the groups in discussion

Image 11: Some of the groups in discussion

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Upcoming conference: Council on Higher Education Quality Promotion Conference 2019

26 to 28 February 2019 | Pretoria – South Africa | CSIR International Convention Centre

Quality Assurance Promotion and Coordination (QAPC)

The CHE is pleased to announce that it is organising a quality promotion conference which will take place from 26 to 28 February 2019 at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria, South Africa. The theme of the conference is: Promoting Academic Integrity in Higher Education. The aim of the conference is to provide a platform for sharing experiences, lessons and good practices, as well as for raising issues and stimulating dialogue on the need to maintain academic integrity across the higher education sector. This would help ensure that the credibility and global competitiveness of the SA, and indeed African higher education qualifications, are not compromised. 

For more details please click on the links below:

Conference website: Quality Promotion Conference 2019

Conference registration: Register

Further information about the conference, including registration and payment queries, should be addressed to the following members of the Organising Committee:

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Building trust for better movement across SADC: August update on the SADC Qualifications Framework (SADCQF)

Ms Coleen Jaftha and Mr Joe Samuels

Image 12: SADC Qualification Framework (SADCQF) courtesy of SAQA

1. Introduction and Background

The intention of this article is to inform the South African public about the latest developments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to implement its Qualifications Framework (QF), the SADCQF. Click on the link to download a copy of the SADCQF booklet:  

The SADCQF, a comprehensive Regional Qualifications Framework (RQF) for schooling, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and higher education, was established in 2011 by the SADC Ministers of Education. Its purpose is to enable easier movement of learners and workers across the SADC region and internationally. It is a 10-level RQF underpinned by learning outcomes and quality assurance (QA) principles that will provide a regional reference for qualifications and QA mechanisms in SADC. The SADCQF booklet contains the SADC level descriptors (pages 10-11) and QA guidelines (pages 13-14). The links below provide access to infographics on the SADCQF level descriptors and the QA guidelines 

Member States agreed to align their qualifications and QA mechanisms to the SADCQF. The vision is that, in the SADC region, all new qualification certificates, diplomas and other qualification credentials issued by competent authorities will contain the relevant level on the SADCQF. Alignment will enable this recognition of achievement at a regional level. The resulting transparency and information about the qualifications and QA of aligned Member States will further assist in embedding mutual trust amongst SADC Members. Regional alignment would also enable institutions and individuals to make comparisons of their learning and competence levels and would reduce unnecessary duplication of learning and effort when moving through SADC for study or work purposes.

To give effect to this decision by the Ministers, a Technical Committee on Certification and Accreditation (TCCA) was given the task of implementing the SADCQF. The TCCA is a group of experts from the 16 SADC Member States and is supported by the SADC Secretariat. At a September 2016 meeting of the TCCA, the implementation process of the SADCQF was revived and an implementation model developed. A clear two-year milestone plan was agreed, and an implementation model initially comprising three programmes namely (1) development and alignment; (2) quality assurance and (3) verification was adopted 

Later three more programmes relevant to regional development were added namely (4) Communication and advocacy and (5) Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) and articulation, and (6) Governance. The link will provide access to a copy of the SADC RPL guidelines.

Eight countries volunteered to pilot the alignment of their qualifications frameworks or education and training systems to that of the SADCQF. In order to provide support and centrally drive co-ordination of implementation, a TCCA Executive Committee (EXCO) was established based on the SADC Troika principles. To ensure the sustainability of the implementation of the SADCQF, a proposal for a SADCQF implementation unit has been submitted to the SADC Secretariat and is currently being considered but, in the meantime, Member States volunteer to support the SADC Secretariat with the implementation effort. Since the September 2016 meeting considerable progress has been made as described next.

2. Development and alignment of National Qualifications Framework/Systems

The main purpose of the SADCQF is to promote mobility, and as such, it plays a key role in being the regional reference point for comparing qualifications obtained in SADC. Currently the SADCQF is a reference framework only with the prospect of later developing into a framework that has qualifications registered onto it. Eight SADC countries are piloting alignment of their National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) or National Qualifications Systems (NQS) with the SADCQF. The pilot countries are Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, eSwatini and Zambia. An alignment plan and roadmap, as well as alignment timelines were developed to assist the eight pilot countries. Support was provided via alignment capacity building workshops hosted by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

Essential to the alignment process is the establishment of a National Alignment Committee (NAC) to spearhead and approve the process. In South Africa, the NAC comprises the following six national bodies: Council on Higher Education (CHE); Department of Basic Education (DBE); Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET); Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO); SAQA and Umalusi. The NAC is a committee established by the CEO Committee of the NQF.

The future plans of the TCCA are to assist pilot countries to complete their alignment reports and eventually roll out alignment to the other eight SADC countries. Looking ahead, there is also a plan to develop an inventory of the NQFs and NQS in SADC. South Africa is overseeing this programme to ensure that it is centrally driven and supported. Currently South Africa is also providing secretarial support to the SADC Secretariat.

3. Quality assurance

The SADCQF encourages SADC countries to have good quality assurance (QA) mechanisms in place and links up with key regional QA bodies. In this regard the Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN) has nominated two QA experts to assist the TCCA with the implementation of QA in SADC. The Southern Africa Association for Educational Assessment (SAAEA) has also been approached to provide experts that will assist the TCCA with implementation of the SADCQF with specific focus on the general education sector. 

The future plans are to strengthen SADC countries' QA mechanisms in terms of accreditation and certification and support their alignment with the SADC QA guidelines. Already progress has been made with creating a list of credible SADC institutions and their qualifications and making the information publicly available. Looking ahead, it is important to strengthen QA capacity in SADC. To this end, opportunities for QA capacity building is consistently being sought, in particular opportunities to engage with the Addis Convention (Revised Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and Other Academic Qualifications in Higher Education in African States). Botswana is overseeing this programme to ensure that QA alignment and implementation is centrally driven and supported.

4. Verification

While the preceding programmes promote trust by ensuring that qualifications and quality assurance meet the regional standards, it is important that countries have mechanisms that can verify information about individual qualifications obtained in Member States. To ensure that credible, trustworthy information is shared across SADC, a regional Qualifications Verification Network (SADCQVN) was established. The SADCQVN was initiated to strengthen verification in SADC and is a member of the African Qualifications Verification Network (AQVN), which shares the common goal of ensuring that African qualifications can be trusted. A SADCQVN booklet was produced which provides information on the right people to contact when verifying qualifications in SADC: The SADCQVN booklet is consistently updated and shared across the region. The annual collation of statistical information on learner and worker mobility in SADC, as well as on misrepresented qualifications, is a key feature of the work of the SADCQVN.

The future plans are to develop a SADC recognition manual, develop regional policies on verification and set up verification agreements between SADC countries. To ensure that the SADCQVN employs modern and innovative technologies, there are plans to pilot real-time verification at a regional level. There are also plans to assist Member States to develop their qualifications infrastructure so that information on their qualifications can be provided quickly and efficiently.  ESwatini is overseeing this programme to ensure that it is centrally driven and supported.

5. Communication and advocacy

The TCCA has identified platforms to advocate for - and communicate about - the SADCQF. Already information about the SADCQF has been distributed at national, regional and international levels. A communication strategy, which includes promotional material on the SADCQF, was developed and approved. Social media sites (Twitter: and Facebook: were set up and used to disseminate information about the SADCQF. The SADCQF has never been formally launched despite being approved in 2011. To ensure that the SADCQF is visible and that Member States commit to its implementation, a formal launch by the SADC Ministers of Education, and popularisation of the SADCQF by the TCCA, took place in the first half of 2017.

6. RPL, CAT and articulation

The SADC region has a set of RPL guidelines that were approved by SADC Ministers in June 2016. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has been closely involved in the production of the SADC RPL guidelines and has further indicated a readiness to assist with implementation across the region.  SAQAN has been closely involved in the production of the draft regional CAT guidelines and is available to provide support to SADC.  This programme will also focus on articulation namely pathways and progression opportunities within and between schooling, TVET and higher education. This programme is centrally driven and supported by Namibia.

7. Governance

The TCCA, with assistance from the SADC Secretariat was tasked with implementing the SADCQF. However, implementation of the SADCQF has been slow, despite being approved by SADC Ministers in 2011 already. Implementation has been constrained by a lack of human capacity as well as financial resources at both national and regional level to undertake the SADCQF-related activities.  The TCCA, chaired by one of the Member countries, started driving the process and assisting the SADC Secretariat to be the key driving force. As part of the driving force, a TCCA EXCO was established to speed up implementation.

Since September 2016 the TCCA and its EXCO has accelerated implementation of the SADCQF. The following has already been achieved:

  • Developing an action plan to start implementation of the SADCQF;
  • Setting up and ensuring regular meetings to co-ordinate the work of the TCCA and capacity building;
  • Developing an implementation road map and implementation model which includes the six programmes  of the SADCQF;
  • Mobilising Member States to take on the responsibility to drive the six programmes of SADCQF implementation;
  • Mobilising Member States to provide secretarial support to the SADC Secretariat;
  • Setting up the Electronic Certificate pilot project;
  • Developing and facilitating  capacity building workshops for alignment for eight pilot countries; and
  • Developing and implementing an advocacy strategy.

A fully operational SADCQF will provide the region with the following benefits:

  • Improved mobility of skilled labour in the region;
  • Easier comparability and recognition, including the verification of qualifications in the region;
  • Improved articulation of qualifications within the education systems in the region;
  • Improved quality assurance systems in the region;
  • Improved awareness of how qualifications compare in the region; and
  • Reduction of misrepresented and fraudulent qualifications being used in the region.

It is against this background that the TCCA has proposed that a SADCQF implementation unit be established to ensure the sustainable functioning of the SADCQF at regional level.

7. Consolidation

Implementation of the SADCQF entails implementing the following programmes: 1) Governance; 2) Development and alignment; 3) Verification of qualifications; 4) Quality Assurance; 5) RPL, articulation and CAT and 6) Advocacy and Communication.

The TCCA understands that in order to maintain the momentum created since September 2016 there is a need to consolidate, review and plan the work going forward. The TCCA meets regularly to keep members updated with SADCQF matters, including discussing the following:

  • Harmonising energies to synergise QA initiatives across Africa  and strengthening countries' capacity to ratify the Addis Convention;
  • Meeting with the SADCQVN to plan and monitor its various verification initiatives;
  • Reviewing overall progress to fast-track SADCQF implementation, with a focus on improving the overall structures that need to be put in place to foster optimal functioning of the SADCQF and make recommendations to Ministers; and
  • Considering funding models for setting up a sustainable regional implementation unit that will assist with implementing the SADCQF and strengthening countries by employing more resources at the country level.

8. Conclusion

This article has outlined the latest information and major developments in the implementation of the SADCQF. Progress has been made in SADCQF communication, aligning NQFs to the SADCQF, ensuring that qualifications meet regional QA standards, establishing a mechanism for verifying SADC qualifications and furthering RPL, CAT and articulation. To ensure the sustainability of the SADCQF and strengthen SADC countries, various funding models are being considered.

All of these measures have the common purpose of building trust in SADC qualifications and enhancing better movement of learners and workers across the SADC region. It is envisaged that a fully operational SADCQF will promote lifelong learning by enabling easier movement of learners and workers regionally, continentally and internationally.

Further information on matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: or


National Advisory Council on Innovation symposium and launch of the 2017 South African Science, Technology & Innovation indicators report

Dr Genevieve Simpson


Image 13: Courtesy of NACi

The purpose of this symposium was to launch the most recent Science, Technology & Innovation (STI) report and to highlight and discuss some key trends it identified. The Minister of Science and Technology (DST), Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, opened the event. She explained how the economic downturn has led to a reduction in expenditure on R&D, requiring the more effective use of resources and increased focus on using R&D to improve the life of South Africans. She highlighted achievements and challenges – while we have seen an increase in publications, PhD graduates and in particular in black and female graduates (in some fields), there is not enough collaboration, products and patents are not increasing as expected, and business and civil society are not spending enough on research. In closing, she referred to policy challenges and a lack of coherence between departments, which has led to DST updating its White Paper, which will be published this year. The National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACi)’s composition is also to be expanded to include other departments.

Dr Azar Jammine (member of the NACi Council) summarised the findings of the report, explaining that this is the most comprehensive STI report yet. He referred to points of progress and challenges, and to the varied local and international context. Mobile technology uptake in South Africa is high, which provides opportunities for innovation in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but cheaper broadband is needed. South Africa’s performance on a number of global indicators (such as innovation and competitiveness) has declined, although some of this has more to do with perceptions of the country. He also referred to graphs comparing South Africa to other African and BRICs countries. He highlighted concerns with basic education, especially with regards mathematics and science, and the carry through effect of these, raising concern about increased expenditure at the tertiary level rather than at the Early Childhood Development (ECD) level. He concluded that the findings from the report should be used to make recommendations to government.

The rest of the event allowed for questions from the audience and then an open discussion with a panel. One theme discussed was the need to move from focusing on urban areas only to inclusive development across South Africa, with increased spending in under-developed regions. The questions of what we can learn from initiatives in rural areas and how successful initiatives can be expanded were discussed. Another question was what can we learn from successful young tech companies to and how can we assist in growing these? NACi was requested to make recommendations to government in this regard, especially in the wake of expanded tertiary funding. It was also recommended that NACi play a more public role.

Another theme was the need for more integration between players in the National System of Innovation (NSI). The hope that we can work together as South Africans and as part of Africa was expressed. The need for cultural integration and decolonisation were raised. There was a debate around incentives for business, or whether it is more important to create the environment for business to thrive – car manufacturing was discussed in this regard. Finally, the need for ‘space to think and innovate’ was raised, together with an emphasis on building systems to serve South African citizens, and systems to serve innovators. It was highlighted how we need entrepreneurs rather than job seekers, and more action to change the model as most graduates focus of looking for jobs, not creating them. 

Closing comments were provided by a number of individuals. Dr Mlungisi Cele asked how innovation can play a role in current political debates, like the land debate. Professor Crain Soudien referred to the need to discuss and reflect, and to work together. Dr Jammine welcomed the wide debate, and the need to connect and engage in conversations to lead change. Professor Cheryl de la Rey reflected on the day’s discussions. She cautioned that when making recommendations, these should not affect other positive developments – for instance a focus on SMEs should not mean a lack of support for large business. She also questioned whether our programmes are relevant to current needs – and discussed how the accreditation process for new programmes can be slow, restricting innovation. Finally, she highlighted the need for strong institutions to drive initiatives and overcome blockages in the system and invited all interested parties to participate in NACi’s National STI Foresight Exercise, 2018 to 2030, through the NACi website.

The NACi report can be downloaded here:

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: 


SAAIR HEMIS Institute 2018

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

Image 14: HEMIS 2018 delegates, image courtesy of SAAIR Institute 

The purpose of the Higher Education Management Information Systems (HEMIS) Institute was to discuss and workshop on issues related to HEMIS reporting; engage with officials of the DHET and the CHE on aspects impacting on HEMIS; cover various aspects of statutory reporting (students, staff and space); develop skills in the area of statutory reporting; clarify definitions and issues of uncertainty in the production of the required reports; share valuable experience of individuals gained over time through peer learning and expert sharing; address issues of common concern across different institutions in a formal contact and lastly to share ideas on how HEMIS data can be better used internally by institutions. 

The HEMIS Institute took place on the 15 and 16 August 2018 and it was hosted by Stellenbosch University at The Lord Charles Hotel in Cape Town in collaboration with Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR). The two day event consisted of insightful presentations on various critical matters concerning the public higher education and this was coupled by robust engagements aimed at improving the public higher education sector. 

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


The Quality Assurance Promotion & Coordination (QAPC) Directorate hosts meeting with Wiley Academy

Ms Selina Mokatsane and Dr Phumzile Dlamini   

On 27 August 2018, there was a very engaging interaction between the CHE and the Wiley Publishers representatives in a quest to learn about and discuss the scientific publishing process and opportunities for improving the acceptance rate of manuscripts authored by South African academics for potential publication in international journals.

Reinhard Schulke, the Business Management Developer for the Wiley Research Academy, delivered a presentation that sought to elaborate on South African research and opportunities to increase the annual research output of the country through an online platform called the Wiley Research Academy. The programme is offered widely across the globe and has potential to increase the annual research output by providing professional e-learning training to both scientists, and early career and mid-career researchers, including those who aim to be peer reviewers.

Wiley already has some association with universities across South Africa, providing eBooks, journals, and backfiles on their Wiley Online Library platform. The e-learning tool was developed to allow all researchers and scientists that have a need for training to access the programme anytime, anywhere and from any device at their own leisure. It was further explained that the training programme aims to enhance scientific writing skills, thereby increasing the likelihood of research articles being accepted for publication in high profile journals, and avoiding publication in ‘predatory journals’.

Image 15: Wiley Academy's Reinhardt Schulke & Ms Selina Mokatsane

Based on the latest figures, the global average acceptance rates of articles across the science, technology and medicine (STM) journals is 50%. More notably, the average acceptance rate for South Africa between 2015 and 2017 has been recorded at 34.5 % in 2015, 33.1 % in 2016, and 23.2 % in 2017. The latter denotes a rejection rate that is a little over 76 %, which is above the international global average of 50%. And this is the situation the Wiley Research Academy seeks to improve. Mr Schulke stressed that this does not just apply to journals in the Wiley brand, but it applies to all international journals.

Also highlighted in the Wiley presentation were some of the most common reasons for rejection of articles based on the experiences of editors.  Some of these include articles that are outside the scope of a specific journal; articles with seemingly defective procedures or analyses of data; articles containing elements that are suspected to be plagiarised; and articles that do not conform to the guidelines of the publisher. It was explained that the Wiley Research Academy consists of 14 learning paths or modules from which learners can select those that address their need areas. These can be completed in 50 hours but there is an option to take a pre-module assessment based on which a decision can be taken to omit a particular module if the learner is already competent in that area. An e-certificate can be earned for each successfully completed module.

The partnership with Wiley through a national license subscription aims to drive continued growth in the quality and quantity of South African published research outputs, and stimulate a national collaboration in science.

Image 16: Some of the participants at the Wiley Academy Meeting including representatives of the Wiley Academy, the CHE's Dr Luke Mlilo, Mr Sanele Nene and Dr Genevieve Simpson.

The participants, including the NRF’s Dr Andrew Kaniki, expressed great interest in the programme with some members of the CHE who have previously engaged with the programme also advocating for its usage. With the imminent CHE review of doctoral programmes, it was noted that the meeting with the Wiley Publishers Representative was, indeed, timeous. Ms Olivia Mokgatle expressed interest in the idea of exploring the kinds of skills and competencies that a graduate needs to have, and aligning them with the fundamental researcher competencies proposed by the Wiley Researcher Academy, and subsequently using these as a national benchmark standard. The meeting thus proved worthwhile.

The CHE has been offered a free two-year subscription and access to over 20 journals as a result of engagement with Wiley International. However the majority of these are in the Sciences but a small number have a bearing on higher education policy and access to these will be made available to CHE staff.

Image 17: Dr Genevieve Simpson, Dr Phumzile Dlamini and Dr Andrew Kaniki from the National Research Foundation

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: or


Programme Accreditation Public Nursing Colleges Workshop

Dr louie Swanepoel 

Image 18: A cross section of participants at the workshop

On 25 June 2018, the Programme Accreditation Directorate facilitated a workshop with the National Department of Health, South African Nursing Council (SANC), South African Military and the Public Nursing Colleges from all nine provinces. The focus of the workshop was on the Public Colleges’ accreditation applications which were due later in August, 2018. All Colleges have to submit new Nursing programmes. The CHE collaborated with the National Department of Health and the South African Nursing Council to train the representatives from the Colleges on the criteria and minimum standards for accreditation and the HEQC online submission system.

After the submissions are uploaded on the system, the Directorate will train identified evaluators to do the evaluation of the nursing programmes.  The plan is still to table the programmes at an Accreditation Committee meeting during the course of the year.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Programme Accreditation Evaluation Trainer Workshop

Dr Louie Swanepoel

The Council on Higher Education Programme Accreditation Directorate held an Evaluator training Workshop over three days, from the 24 to 26 of July 2018. The workshop focused on Education programmes submitted for accreditation. The trainees were selected on the basis of CVs submitted in response to a request sent to potential evaluators by the Directorate.

The purpose of the workshop was to train the evaluators. The process followed was a training on the first day. On the second and third days the trainees were given forty (40) programmes to evaluate under the guidance of two experienced evaluators or chairs. The CHE refers to this process as a cluster evaluation process.

The Directorate also developed a new evaluation template which is still linked to the criteria and minimum standards as reflected the in the application template to be used during the evaluation process. The chairs were in constant communication with the new evaluators until all the reports were submitted to Accreditation. These reports will now be tabled at the next AC meeting in October 2018.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Institutional Audits Pilot

Dr Luke Mlilo

Towards the end of June 2018, correspondence was entered into with four institutions with the view to securing an expression of interest for the pilot audit. These institutions were:

  • University of Venda (UNIVEN)
  • University of Free State (UFS)
  • Vaal University of Technology (VUT) and
  • Central University of Technology (CUT)

Some private higher education institutions were also identified as possible pilot auditors in order to diversify the pilots, and they all indicated they would be happy to participate. These were: Regent Business School, Richfield Graduate Institute of Technology, and Boston City Campus and Business College.

Following a selection process, and given that only three institutions were required for the pilots (namely, 1 University of Technology, 1 Comprehensive University, and 1 Private Higher Education Institution), the following were appointed:

  • Vaal University of Technology,
  • University of Venda, and
  • Boston City Campus and Business College.

Preparations for the pilot audits by the participating institutions are currently at various stages of development. A list of possible auditors has also been compiled, and from the list the required number of auditors will soon be appointed. The pilot audits are scheduled to be conducted in March 2019.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


Staff-related Matters

Ms Vuyo Matsam

The Council on Higher Education is an equal opportunity employer and values its employees. One way the organization does this is by continuously up skilling them and providing them with the requisite exposure to grow their talent using a hands-on approach. Recently we have bid farewell to a number of our employees, whilst we were saddened by the loss of these critical skills we believe that they will continue to advocate for quality higher education within the broader higher sector by still holding firm to the values of the CHE.

Those who resigned are listed below:

  • Ms Thandi Gumede, Administrator in the Directorate: Programme Accreditation resigned from the CHE and her last day of service was Friday, 13 July 2018.
  • Mr Denver Grigg (Manager: Programme Accreditation) resigned from the CHE and his last day of service was 31 July 2018.
  • Mr Maeta Thobane, Supply Chain Management Officer in the Corporate Services directorate resigned from the CHE and his last day of service was 31 August 2018.
  • The Senior Manager in the National Standards and Reviews Directorate, Dr Siyanda Makaula has resigned from the CHE and his last day of service was, 31 August 2018.

The CHE welcomed Mr Lebohang Magage who has been appointed as the ICT Administrator in the Corporate Services with effect from 1 July 2018. The recruitment and selection process of the vacancies in Programme Accreditation, National Standards and Reviews, Corporate Services and Institutional Audits directorates is currently underway and we are looking forward to welcoming new employees in the near future. 

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to:


CHE Social

CHE Social Club

The CHE takes every available opportunity to build team spirit and promote staff wellness. This quarter (July to September 2018), we participated in the MTN Walk the Talk with 702 jointly organised with Radio 702. A total of twenty two (22) members of staff participated in the event. We had three champions in the 15 Km Walk (Ms Vuyo Matsam, Dr Siyanda Makaula and Mr Ntokozo Bhengu), Ms Nthabiseng Mofomme braved the 5Km and the rest of the team took the 8Km.  Our victors closed the event with a celebratory lunch and dancing. On the whole, the team was happy with the way the event was organised. 


 Images 19 and 20: Ms Naledi Phahlamohlaka and Mr Andy Mosotho and Ms Nthabiseng Mofomme at the finishing line.

Image 21: Professor Baijnath conqueror of the 8Km walk

Image 22: Team CHE

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: