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Nzimande says stringent measures in place to ensure integrity of qualifications

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Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande says there were stringent measures in place to uphold the integrity of degrees and diplomas offered by universities in the country.

Various professional bodies ensure the integrity of qualifications.

There is a a quality assurance body that oversees qualifications offered by universities to ensure they meet the requirements and are fully compliant with the law.

Nzimande stated that the department approves the qualifications offered by universities.

The sector has been rocked by the issue of fake qualifications at the University of Fort Hare and Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane and Minister of Public Service and Administration Noxolo Kiviet have been implicated in the scandal.

It was reported that Kiviet obtained her honours and Master’s degrees without having a higher education qualification.

However, Mabuyane is challenging the matter in court after the president ordered the Special Investigating Unit to probe the allegations.

Nzimande, replying to a written parliamentary question from Mzwanele Manyi of the Economic Freedom Fighters, stated that there are measures and institutions in place to ensure the integrity of qualifications offered at universities.

“Professional bodies play an important role in ensuring the integrity of professional qualifications and in protecting the public. The Council on Higher Education has signed Memoranda of Agreement/ Understanding with several professional bodies to promote cooperation and collaboration that ensures the quality of qualifications that lead to professional registration,”’ said Nzimande.

He said they need to protect and guard against the qualifications and programmes offered by universities.

It is in this regard there would be periodic reviews conducted on these programmes.

However, putting safeguards in place would always provide protection on degrees or diplomas offered to students by institutions of higher learning.

“Universities are established by the Minister in terms of the Act. Each university has a Programme and Qualification Mix (PQM) that is approved by the Minister; qualifications that are placed on the universities’ PQMs are approved by the Department of Higher Education and Training (the department), accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE), registered on the National Qualifications Framework (HEQSF) and by the South African Qualifications Authority (Saqa), and supported by a professional body, where applicable. The Minister, therefore, determines the scope and range of operations for higher education institutions.

“The department, the CHE and Saqa have initiated a Data Validation Project; the aim of this project is to ensure that qualification types and naming conventions are consistent across the three databases. This exercise was necessitated by the emergence of different qualification types and nomenclatures that were used interchangeably after the HEQSF Alignment process.”

Nzimande said there are instances that qualifications are discontinued by universities because they conduct periodic reviews.

This was to establish if that qualification was viable, if it was not the university would no longer offer it.

He said where there were concerns around the quality of a qualification, the Council on Higher Education would step in and ensure it meets the required standards.

But there were stringent measures in place on the integrity of qualifications offered by universities.

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