CHE week-long campus visit for routine institutional audit concludes successfully

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In our mission to continue providing quality education and conduct innovative research that contributes to the advancement of knowledge, the University hosted a panel from the Council of Higher Education (CHE) as part of the Council’s sector-wide series of institutional audits.

The panel members arrived on campus on Monday, 17th of October and concluded their session on Friday, 21 0ctober.

According to the CHE, institutional audits constitute one of the mechanisms through which the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) carries out its responsibilities for quality assurance. The assessment focuses on an institution’s policies, systems, procedures, strategies and resources for quality management of the core functions of teaching and learning, research and community engagement, including the relevant academic support services. 

 “The CHE’s primary focus is quality assurance in higher education in South Africa. All universities are currently being audited by the Council as part of their routine oversight role linked to their core mandate,” explained the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sakhela Buhlungu.

Part of the preparation for the visit included the compilation of an institutional self-evaluation report (SER) on the institution’s quality assurance system, policies, protocols, and practices.

“The background against which the SER was developed, is the approval by the University of Fort Hare Council of a new Strategic Plan, entitled ‘Towards a Decade of Renewal, 2022-2026’ on THE 25th of November 2021, and a steep recovery over the last eighteen months that has seen governance systems restored and rejuvenated following a period during which the University was under Council administration.”

 “The preparation of the SER has allowed the University to reflect on the policies, structures and processes it has in place to assure quality in important ways. The insights derived from this self-reflexive exercise will serve us well as we move forward.”

 The visit started with a meet-and-greet session at the Hogsback Hotel on the 16th of October before the formal sessions that involved face-to-face interviews, virtual interactions and site visits on all three campuses (Alice, East London and Alice) commenced.

On Day 1 the first session was with the VC and the University’s Management Executive Committee on matters related to governance and leadership. This was followed by sessions with the Extended Management Team members, Faculty Deans and a campus tour of facilities on the Alice campus.

Day 2 started with a site visit to the picturesque Fort Hare Dairy Farm ahead of interviews with staff from Quality Assurance, Compliance and Risk Management, Heads of Departments, Deputy Deans, staff from the Research, Partnership and Innovation Office and Academic staff who are members of Senate.

Day 3 commenced with discussions with the council members (internal and external) followed by representatives from organized labour.

On days 4 and 5, engagements were held virtually with students, academic staff, researchers, staff who work in infrastructure and facilities, student support and academic support staff.

According to the VC, the CHE panel provided initial feedback to the Extended Management Team at the end of their visit, outlining both what the University is doing well as well as areas for improvement.

“This tallied very well with our own self-evaluation, and we await the panel’s final report, which we should receive early next year.”

“One comment from the panel, which struck me as very important, was that the panel noted, across all tiers of the University, a very deep commitment to seeing the University succeed. It is that commitment from our staff, our students and our Council that will unite us as we continue building this truly singular institution,” said the VC.