Briefing Document


The Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) has the mandate in terms of the Higher Education Act (Act No. 101 of 1997) to:

Because of the large number of existing programmes that were offered by higher education institutions at the inception of the CHE and HEQC, the HEQC decided to focus on the accreditation of new programmes. Existing programmes in certain key areas would then be dealt with through national reviews. The re-accreditation of MBA programmes offered by higher education institutions in South Africa was the first national review undertaken by the HEQC.

National reviews constitute a particular form of accreditation that focuses on the re-accreditation of existing programmes in a specific discipline area. National reviews are conducted within the context of the general HEQC accreditation criteria but they also include criteria specific to the programmes /or disciplinary area focused on. They take into account providers’ as well as stakeholders’ concerns and interests in the training of students or professionals in a particular area including the articulation between the learning programme and the skills required from graduates in the actual work situation.

National reviews have three main components: the re-accreditation of programmes; the follow-up process on the re-accreditation results; and the production of a report on the state of provision in a particular programme/or disciplinary area.

Various factors influence the choice of a particular programme or discipline for review. Some of these factors are:

Guided specifically by the following factors, in 2004, the HEQC Board took a decision that the next national review will be conducted on selected professional and academic programmes in Education.

A framework document was developed to guide the process. Given that existing data was not sufficient for planning purposes or to support the preparation of the report on the state of provision, it was necessary a baseline survey was designed and completed by providers of teacher education programmes. The data from the questionnaire will inform the selection of programmes/specializations to form part of the Review.


The Framework covers the following:

In a nutshell, the main purposes of the review will therefore be to:

    1. Re-accreditation Process

The re-accreditation process of the Review consists of 4 phases: Preparatory Phase, Evaluation Phase, Decision-making Phase, and Improvement and Follow-up Phase.


The project is at advanced levels of the Preparatory Phase. This phase has involved consultation with various stakeholders in teacher education – i.e.

These bilateral meetings culminated in a consultative workshop held on the 20th of October 2004 attended by 104 delegates representing the following constituencies:

The purpose of the workshop was to:

Comments were received from some institutions and were integrated into the Baseline Survey Questionnaire and the Framework.

The HEQC also had a meeting with the Minister of Education on the 4th of March 2005. She pledged her support for the national review and suggested ways in which (while recognising the independence of the CHE), the CHE/HEQC could partner with the DoE on this review (e.g. the modernization of the curriculum, supply and demand of teacher education).

To extend the consultative process, in March 2005, the HEQC held 12 regional consultative workshops with students (class representatives, SRCs, etc), academics, quality assurance managers, provincial departments of Education and teacher trade unions at provincial level on the National Review. Wherever possible, institutions were grouped together at a central institution which was requested to host the workshop. Dr Prem Naidoo, Mr Theo Bhengu and Mr Tshepo Magabane of the HEQC conducted these regional workshops. These workshops have been successfully concluded, and attendance ranged from 25 to 108. More than 700 people attended in total.

Criteria Development

In November 2004, the HEQC appointed six task teams to develop criteria on the following qualifications: Master of Education (M Ed), Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), Bachelor of Education (Hons), Bachelor of Education (B Ed), National Professional Diploma in Education (NPDE) and Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE).

Given that teacher education is mainly offered through a distance education mode, a seventh task team was appointed to develop criteria for distance education.

Given the immense experience of the academics throughout the country in teaching these qualifications, the HEQC decided to draw on this rich experience in the development of the criteria. The HEQC proposed to use a regional participatory approach involving academics. This approach, which was received with great enthusiasm by the Deans, entailed locating the development of criteria of each qualification in different regions with an institution acting as a coordinator. The coordinating institution had the responsibility to invite the participation of other institutions in the region to form the task team to develop the criteria for the identified qualification. Institutions had the opportunity to choose which qualification type it wanted to participate in. The details of coordinators are indicated in the table below.



M Ed

University of Western Cape

B.Ed (Hons)

University of Pretoria


University of the Witwatersrand

B.Ed (Foundation & Intermediate Phase)

B.Ed (Senior & FET Phase)

University of Zululand

University of the Free State


University of Fort Hare


University of Venda


University of South Africa

The criteria development process by regional task teams was completed on the 10th of March 2005, and draft criteria were submitted to the HEQC and presented at the Deans’ Forum. The HEQC then appointed a team to consolidate and harmonise the criteria into a national framework. The Proposed Criteria for Structured M Ed Programmes and the Proposed Criteria for M Ed by Dissertation were released for public comment on the 26th of April and 10th of May 2005 respectively. Comments on these documents were due on the 23rd of May and 30th of May 2005. Comments have been integrated into the final criteria documents awaiting approval by the HEQC Board on the 14th of June 2005.


As already mentioned, a baseline survey questionnaire was developed and comments from stakeholders were integrated. The final version was sent to 29 institutions in November 2004 and institutions were given till January 2005 to complete and submit to the HEQC. Only 26 institutions (23 public and 3 private institutions) offer professional and academic programmes in Education. 25 institutions completed the baseline survey. An initial analysis of 17 institutions (presented at the Deans’ Forum on the 24th of February 2005) reveals the following:

A more complete analysis of the size and shape of provision will be completed and reflected on the report on the state of professional and academic programmes in Education after the submission of missing information by institutions. The report will give a reasonably accurate picture of the nature of supply of teacher education. A list of higher education institutions offering education programmes is included.


A schedule of activities was presented at the Deans’ Forum listing timelines for the National Review.

The following activities are planned for 2005 and 2006:


As part of the national review, the HEQC has discussed with institutions the possibility of doing an improvement-oriented evaluation of Mathematics and Science Education programmes. This evaluation will, in other words, have no accreditation consequence. The Mathematics and Science Education evaluation will be done in respect of each of the qualifications that will be reviewed (M Ed, PGCE, ACE and B Ed). The reason for the soft evaluation is to improve the quality of Mathematics and Science Education, but not to impact negatively on the supply of Mathematics and Science educators. A meeting with institutions offering Mathematics and Science Education and representatives from the Department of Education and the Ministerial Committee on Teacher Education was held on the 24th of May 2005. There was general agreement on this type of evaluation from institutions. This has been communicated to institutions. A small task team has been appointed to develop criteria.



The HEQC has developed a document to guide institutions on how criteria will be used to arrive at judgements.





Systemic Issues & Minor Shortcomings

Institution to provide the HEQC with a report indicating steps taken to address problems identified. Areas fixable in 21 days to be addressed immediately. HEQC to monitor.


Fixable Short-term Shortcomings

Institution to send improvement plan with details on compliance strategy with time-lines not exceeding 1 year. At the end of the period, a detailed report to be submitted to the HEQC for monitoring and evaluation.


Irreparable Shortcomings

Institution notified that the programme did not meet the criteria and minimum standards.