CHE NEWSLETTER - QUALITY MATTERS Volume 1, Issue No.8 - January 2018

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January, 2018
 
QUALITY MATTERS
Latest news
 

From the desk of the Chief Executive Officer

 

 

Prof Narend Baijnath

Belated New Year’s greetings to all our colleagues and stakeholders. May 2018 turn to be a successful and fulfilling year much as we anticipate many challenges. The CHE appreciates the stakeholder support and commitment that made 2017 a successful year despite the enormous challenges we had to grapple with. We look forward to another year of collaboration and cooperation with our stakeholders so as to continue building a South African higher education sector that we can all be proud of, and that would compare favourably with the best in the world.

In this first issue of Quality Matters for 2018, you will read about the successful consultative workshops that the CHE had with public and private higher education institutions on our proposed integrated quality assurance approach. We value the thoughtful and constructive feedback received from the stakeholders at these workshops, and we will continue with this type of consultation as we proceed with refining the proposed approach to satisfaction.

The previous issues of the newsletter provided updates on the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP). As you may recall from some previous issues of the newsletter, one of our major activities in 2017 was to conceptualise a methodology for the next cycle of auditing the quality assurance mechanisms of institutions in line with our legislative mandate. In line with the integrated quality assurance approach under development, the next cycle of institutional audit will follow a review methodology, and will be called Institutional Quality Review [IQR]. The IQR will succeed the QEP, and there is an article in this issue that provides a synopsis of the transitional arrangements from QEP to the institutional quality reviews (IQRs).

Following the 2016 conference of the Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN) which the CHE successfully organised and hosted, in July 2017 the CHE was once again requested by regional and international stakeholder bodies [SAQAN), the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA), and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)], to organise and host a regional quality assurance workshop for Southern Africa. The workshop took place in October 2017 and there is an article in this issue of the newsletter about that workshop.

In our September 2017 issue (Vol 1. Issue No. 7), we introduced our readers to our research briefs on topical issues:  the BrieflySpeaking series, which has really taken off and become regularised. From the feedback received, it is highly valued. In this issue, a summary is provided of the latest in series, and an access link is provided to readers. We urge readers to provide feedback on the series and suggest areas of focus through the address reflected in the article.

As we well know, social media has revolutionised communication and information sharing. The CHE now has presence on a number of social media platforms. There is a piece in this issue of the newsletter that informs readers about the social platforms on which the CHE has presence, and which readers may use to communicate with, or share information about, the CHE. This is in addition to existing channels of communication.

We can never over-emphasise the importance of stakeholder engagement in the success of the work of the CHE. For this reason, we also present stakeholder engagement activities undertaken by the CEO in the period September-December 2017. We also report on our Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. I take this opportunity to thank CHE staff for their tireless commitment to making a difference in our society. We close with an article from Corporate Services.

Enjoy!

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: ceo@che.ac.za

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The CHE Consultative Workshops for Public and Private HEIs

Drs Phumzile Dlamini and Amani Saidi

 

A cross-section of participants at one of the consultative workshops

The CHE convened consultative workshops for public HEIs and private HEIs at Birchwood Hotel & Conference Centre on the 30th and 31st October, 2017 respectively. The workshops were organised under the theme “Conceptualising a quality assurance approach for a changing South African higher education system”. One of the objectives of the workshop was to share with stakeholders the CHE’s current thinking on possible changes in the quality assurance approach in response to developments in the South African higher education system. Another equally important objective was to provide stakeholders an opportunity to critique the CHE’s current thinking on possible changes in the quality assurance approach in response to developments in the South African Higher Education system. The CHE also used the workshops to discuss the changing context of higher education and its implications on the quality of provision with stakeholders and further reflect on the current approach and methodologies for external quality assurance developed and implemented by the CHE.

The workshop for public HEIs was attended by 79 participants representing 31 HEIs whilst the workshop for private HEIs was attended by 109 participants. Other stakeholders represented include DHET, SAQA and the other quality councils.

In their post-workshop evaluation forms most of the participants commended the CHE for taking a consultative approach in the process of reviewing its Quality Assurance approach. Stakeholders also made repeated calls for continued consultation. Another issue that was repeatedly raised as a concern was perceived lack of coordination amongst key players in the regulatory environment and the CHE was urged to spearhead efforts of enhancing integration across the sector.

Stakeholders were, in principle supportive on the planned shift towards the integrated approach that the CHE is considering.  For details please visit (http://www.che.ac.za/media_and_publications/documents-interest/che-consultative-workshops-documentation). However, some concerns were also expressed.  One key concern expressed by stakeholders from both public as well as private HEIs was that the proposed integrated approach, in particular the proposed Institutional Quality Reviews (IQRs), could have the effect of increasing the burden on the already overburdened academics and staff in the institutional QA unit. There were also loud calls to ensure that the new approach does not entrench legacies of the past. Another issue that came up as a serious concern from both public as well as private HEIs was the lack of sufficient capacity within both the CHE and in the institutions.

The stakeholders at both workshops urged the CHE to revise the conceptualisation of the proposed integrated approach in light of their inputs and afford them another opportunity to interrogate it further. They effectively called for continued dialogue with the CHE on this and other matters that affect them.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Saidi.A@che.ac.za

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From quality enhancement to quality assurance: The next cycle of Institutional Quality Reviews

Mr Sanele Nene

In 2018, the Council on Higher Education (CHE) is concluding the Quality Enhancement Project (QEP), a project which has been critical in getting the higher education sector in South Africa to sharply focus on improving students’ success through enhancing teaching and learning at undergraduate level. The QEP, has been the main project of the Institutional Audits Directorate since 2014 and has allowed the CHE to work with the entire sector with a single objective in mind.

Although the full impact of the QEP cannot be determined immediately, a formative evaluation is currently underway in order to understand its effects on the sector and the extent to which it has achieved its objectives. It would, therefore, be premature to pronounce on the successes or limitations of the Project based on impressions and perceptions. As a result, the findings of the evaluation are eagerly awaited.

As we wind up the QEP, the focus now shifts to the next cycle of Institutional Quality Reviews (IQRs) for which the QEP was meant to be a curtain raiser in order to help institutions make the necessary preparations. This is a strategic return to the core mandate of the CHE: to audit the quality assurance mechanisms of institutions in order to ensure transparency and accountability in the higher education sector, as well as the provision of quality education for students.

There is a logical nexus between the IQRs and the QEP, which informs this shift. The external evaluation of the first cycle of audits concluded that the process had been successful in identifying strengths and weaknesses, and in promoting a quality culture in the sector. For this reason, the evaluation panel then recommended a ‘soft touch’ approach—as part of the CHE’s quality promotion mandate—to help inculcate this quality culture in institutions through self-reflecting and reporting on institutional quality assurance mechanisms in the area of teaching and learning. During the QEP era, institutions by and large (and to varying degrees) engaged in participatory processes of self-reflection and submitted three different reports to the CHE.

The IQRs follow on the back of this experience with the understanding that there is tremendous growth and maturity in the sector in relation to quality assurance. On this basis, institutions should now be in a position to have their quality assurance mechanisms assessed through a process whose findings may have binding implications for them  in order to ensure continued provision of quality higher education. However, this is not meant to punish or reward institutions; rather it is meant to ensure acceptable levels of quality in the sector to safeguard higher education in South Africa and to identify areas of support still needed in institutions.

It is, therefore, important that, as the CHE crafts and finalises the methodology by which IQRs will be conducted, the need for the quality reviews is understood by the stakeholders and that there is sufficient buy-in. This requires continuous engagement between the CHE and all the stakeholders. This began with the Public Consultative Fora in October 2017 and will continue until an appropriate and feasible methodology is adopted.

Quality enhancement and quality assurance are two sides of the same coin. As the CHE flips the coin in 2018, there is hope that the sector will embrace this as it did the QEP and the first cycle institutional audits before it.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Nene.S@che.ac.za

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Regional Quality Assurance Workshop for Southern Africa

Drs Phumzile Dlamini and Amani Saidi

The Regional Workshop on Identifying Capacity Building Needs for the Improvement of Internal and External Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Southern Africa was held on the 9th -10th October 2017 at the Sierra Burgers Park Hotel, Pretoria. The workshop was part of the international activities of the Dialogue on Innovative Higher Education Strategies (DIES pronounced d-e-a-r-s!!) programme, jointly developed by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK). It was organised by the CHE in collaboration with the Southern African Quality Assurance Network (SAQAN) and the Southern African Regional Universities’ Association (SARUA). 

The workshop was attended by 86 participants from 19 countries i.e. Angola, Belgium, Botswana, the DRC, France, Germany, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Participants included a range of practitioners in Higher Education Quality Assurance including representatives of Higher Education Councils/ Commissions, Quality Assurance Agencies; Higher Education Institutions; Professional Bodies, Consultants in QA, regional networks and international agencies. The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) also had representation at the workshop.

Participants at the workshop


Left to right: Dr Amani Saidi (CHE), Chazotte Goodrun (DAAD); Ms Kotecha Piyushi (SARUA), Prof. Emmanuel Ngara (ZIMCHE/SAQAN), Prof. Narend Baijnath (CHE) Back: Michaela Martins (IIEP), Michael Horig (DAAD), Andrée Sursock (EUA).

The workshop methodology included addresses from the organizers, a key note address on current and future challenges of Higher Education development in Southern Africa, presentations and cases studies on internal quality assurance (IQA) and external quality assurance (EQA) from both regional and international perspectives, case studies, discussion panels, working group sessions as well as plenary discussions. 

At the conclusion of the workshop, a synthesis of the proceedings and group discussions was presented as key observations. These include:

  • With globalisation and internationalisation of higher education international recognition become increasingly important;
  • The need for balancing competition with cooperation to leverage on opportunities offered by globalisation;
  • The need for international transparency imposed by ICT and the wider range of delivery options; and
  • Whilst the SADC region is increasingly becoming a choice destination for students, concerns about unevenness of quality and differences in approaches to QA across the region remains a challenge.

The workshop assisted in raising awareness of a better understanding of the benefits of regional cooperation on quality assurance. It also deepened participants’ understanding of the interrelationships between internal and external quality assurance mechanism. Most importantly, it assisted in identifying capacity building needs for the improvement of internal and external quality assurance in higher education in Southern Africa. Following the workshop, SAQAN and the DAAD have been communicating to come up with collaborative interventions to assist with meeting the capacity building needs identified during the workshop.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Dlamini.P@che.ac.za

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BrieflySpeaking

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

In the previous issue of CHE Newsletter – Quality Matters Vol. 1 Issue No. 7 – we introduced you to BrieflySpeaking, a series of monitoring briefs from the Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate. The latest in the series, Number 3   – published November 2017- provides a succinct overview of the current and diverse national debates on the decolonisation of the curriculum. It briefly traces the philosophical, political and cultural antecedents to particular lines of argument on the matter, and then raises a number of fundamental questions for discussion. You can follow this link to access the full article (link: BrieflySpeaking).

Planned issues for 2018 include a further examination of curriculum, trends in private higher education and changes in student political formations. We would welcome feedback, suggestions and ideas for future topics in order for us to ensure that write and publish on trends and developments in the higher education sector that are of interest to our readers.

You can send your suggestions to the Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate of the CHE using the following email: research@che.ac.za

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The CHE has presence on social media platforms

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu 

The vision of the CHE is to be a dynamic organisation contributing to a transformed, equitable, and quality higher education and training system in South Africa. In order to realize its vision the CHE needs to continuously keep its stakeholders updated with developments in matters pertaining to the area of its work. Traditionally, the CHE has largely relied on organized gatherings (workshops, conferences, meetings, etc.), website and publications to keep its stakeholders informed of with such developments.

ICTS have enabled new communication platforms which are taking prominence both in the public and private sectors. These are in the form of social media which are proving to be versatile means of interaction among individuals and institutions where there is a rapid creation, sharing and exchange of information within technological space. Many institutions and professionals within the higher education sector have established their presence in social media and they are regularly sharing information and engaging with their stakeholders or interested parties.

With these developments, the CHE has taken to social media with intent to widen the scope of interaction with its stakeholder and expand its reach. The CHE has two social media accounts: Facebook - @CHESouthAfrica and Twitter - @che_SouthAfrica respectively. We are constantly posting, sharing information and interacting with institutions and individuals within the sector. We would like to encourage our stakeholders to follow the CHE to keep up-to-date on quality assurance matters within the higher education sector.          

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Bhengu.N@che.ac.za

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High level external stakeholder engagement 

Mr Ntokozo Bhengu 

The CHE engages stakeholders to promote the organisation and its work, as well as to develop essential networks. The CEO leads the organisation’s stakeholder engagement activities and initiatives.  The following networking, profiling and stakeholder engagement activities to promote the CHE’s organisational work took place in the period September –December 2017:

  1. Workshop on Identifying Capacity Building Needs for the Improvement of Internal Quality Assurance : On 09 to 10 October 2017, the CEO, together with 3 Directors (Quality Assurance and Promotion Coordination, Programme Accreditation,  National Standards and Reviews) and other CHE staff members attended the DAAD sponsored Regional Workshop on Identifying Capacity Building Needs for the Improvement of Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) and External Quality Assurance (EQA) in Higher Education in Southern Africa (SADC) at Sierra Burgers Park Hotel in Pretoria.
  2. Teacher Education at a Distance Conference: On 11 October 2017, the CEO attended the Teacher Education at a Distance (TE@D) Conference at the Ranch Resort, Polokwane where he presented the opening keynote address. The conference was hosted by the College of Education at UNISA and was attended by mostly national and a few international participants.
  3. ANC Study Group meeting: On 17 October 2017, the CHE was invited to attend the ANC Study Group meeting in Parliament. The CEO attended together with member of Council Prof Thaver, who was nominated by the Chair.
  4. Report at the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training meeting in Parliament: On 18 October 2017, the Chairperson, accompanied by the CEO, the CFO, and members of Council, Prof B Thaver and Mr C Kruger, presented the 2016/17 Annual Report at the PCHET meeting in Parliament. The report was generally well received. The CFO – Mr Thulaganyo Mothusi, in particular was complimented for his work in managing the finances of the organisation and complying with PFMA requirements.
  5. HAQAA Stakeholder Consultation Workshop: On 16 - 17 November 2017, the CEO attended the HAQAA Stakeholder Consultation Workshop where he was a panelist in the discussion on promotion and implementation of the ESG guideline.
  6. Radio interview: On 27 November 2017, the CEO was interviewed by SAFM and Channel Islam International (CII) Radio regarding the outcomes of the LLB Reviews
  7. NRF Colloquium: On 28 November 2017, the CEO attended the NRF Colloquium on “Planning for Impact”

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Bhengu.n@che.ac.za

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CHE corporate social initiatives and staff matters

Ms Vuyokazi Matsam and Mr Ntokozo Bhengu

Professor Narend Baijnath, CHE CEO 

The CHE continues to pursue its values of ‘social justice’, ‘quality’, ‘integrity’ and ‘accountability’ in its engagements and activities. In furtherance of these values, the CHE continues to actively contribute towards the development of its surrounding communities by helping those in need. The CHE has been actively helping the SOS Children’s Village in Mamelodi by maintaining one of the homes in the village. The work done by the CHE staff has ranged from small to large house maintenance duties. In the words of Robert Collier: ‘Success is the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out’.

In 2018 we will continue where we left off in 2017, with the hope of having a greater impact in changing our communities and inculcating the spirit of Ubuntu. At the centre of all these small efforts is the CHE staff who have risen to the occasion through volunteering their time and, most importantly, raising funds in their personal capacity to help those in need.

Long service awards…

In December 2017 the CHE held its year-end function for all its staff to bring the year to closure and reflect on the achievements and setbacks.  But more than anything else, this was an occasion to celebrate. 

Vince Lombardi had this to say about commitment: ‘Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work’. With this in mind the CHE took the opportunity to acknowledge and reward commitment and excellence through long term service which has been displayed by staff members to the organisation. These members have been with the Council on Higher Education for a period of 5 – 10 years. They have shown commitment towards the realization of our vision and mission guided by our values which they have displayed every step of the way in execution of their duties.

Professor Narend Baijnath, CEO and Ms Vuyo Matsam, Corporate Services Director expressed their gratitude for the support and commitment displayed by the staff members.

 

Top left to right: Dr Webbstock & Prof Baijnath, Ms Mmako, Mr Gordon, Ms Maoko, and Ms Bothma.                         

Bottom, left to right, Dr Swanepoel, Dr Grayson, Mr Kabwe, Ms Mofomme, and Ms Kanise.

CHE Employee Satisfaction Survey…

It is the CHE’s Senior Management Committee’s objective to ensure that increased levels of engagement, morale and motivation prevail amongst its most critical assets –its employees. Overall, the Council on Higher Education strives to be a better place to work for, in line with the HR’s value proposition of being “an employer of choice”.

The CHE conducted an organisation-wide employee survey between 09 and 13 October 2017. The purpose of the survey was to get a better understanding of the levels of employee morale, engagement and perception in the organisation. The survey applied to all employees of the CHE including fixed term employees.

The survey was managed by Pure Survey, an independent survey company to ensure confidentiality. The objective was to use the survey results amongst others to:

  • Review some of the CHE‘s employee practices, policies, etc.
  • Develop effective engagement strategies,
  • Improve and enhance the organisational culture and climate,
  • Align management and employee expectations in order to facilitate greater productivity within the organisation.

Plans are underway to address the issues emanating from the survey with interventions at Directorate level and at organisational, during the last quarter of the financial year. Smaller cross functional teams facilitated by Human Resources will be established to propose recommendations on how to improve our culture, performance and address any problem areas. The survey results will be acted upon, within agreed timelines. Where there are deficiencies, action plans will be developed.

Further information on the matters discussed in this article can be obtained by writing to: Bhengu.n@che.ac.za

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