Quality comes under the microscope

While private providers of higher education have proven themselves to be especially strong in areas like design and film studies, many of them still have to walk a mile before they can match the quality offered at public institutions.

A report on The state of private higher education provision in South Africa by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) points out some of the sector’s weaknesses. Some challenges come directly from the structure of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), as institutions struggle to match their courses to the eight levels the

NQF demarcates.

For example, 85% of the programmes looked at were found to be more suited to the Further Education and Training band (NQF levels 2-4) than to Higher Education (NQF levels 5-8).

Theo Bhengu, manager of accreditation at the CHE’s Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) says another problem common to 84% of the programmes was that their titles did not accurately reflect the course content. ‘You find that a programme is called ‘Information Technology’, for example, but if you look at the subjects and content, the programme is actually computer literacy,” Bhengu says.

The process of addressing these and other weaknesses is under way.
Last month, a CHE workshop, on the accreditation process, held in Pretoria for private providers highlighted key points such as matching programmes with the needs of the world of work. Strategies to achieve this include providing

internship programmes, which should become a prerequisite for students’ qualifications; and inviting an external moderator to assess programmes, especially for the exit-level examination papers.

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