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CHE site visit concluded successfully

The goal to offer quality education that is responsive, that is fit for purpose and that ensures students’ value for money continued as an audit panel appointed by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) visited Unisa during April.

The purpose of the audit was to provide an overall evaluation of the institution’s quality management in the focus areas agreed upon between the CHE and the university. An overall and all-inclusive evaluation of the institution, in the form of a narrative summary, will be part of the conclusion of the audit report.

The eight-member panel, accompanied by two CHE officials, was chaired by Professor Yunus Ballim. Two panel members connected online from abroad: Professor Alan Tait from the United Kingdom, and Professor Som Naidu from Australia.

During the course of the visit, approximately three hundred stakeholders participated in more than thirty-three sessions. Unisa, being the first university to be visited, took the bull by the horns and the process was reflective of innovations that ensured a well-executed approach of the plan, ably developed by the Institutional Audit (IA) Steering Committee and the Planning Task Team.

Members of the Audit Panel, CHE Audit Personnel and members of the IA Steering Committee. Seated front centre is Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, with Prof Yunus Ballim, CHE Panel Chair, third from right

The stakeholders invited to participate ranged from Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Puleng LenkaBula, who was the first Unisan the panel interviewed, to staff in the regional offices across the country.  The interviewees were strategically selected by the guidance of the CHE and reflected Unisa’s student-centeredness approach.

On 11 and 12 April 2022, the panel visited the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal regions. The facilities at the East London Hub, Cape Town Regional Hub and Sunnyside Regional Hub were visited, as were the Pietermaritzburg office and Florida Science Campus.

The Durban Regional hub visit was disrupted by the floods that wreaked havoc in the area. The university is sincerely grateful to all Unisans for the hard work in preparation for the tour of facilities and infrastructure. The importance of infrastructure provisioning is an important aspect of any audit, and the institution takes pride in the infrastructure and resources provided to students.

The last milestone of any audit is the closing meeting, where an overview of the IA outcomes is presented as preliminary findings. At this meeting, the Vice-Chancellor and Executive Management were informed on areas in which Unisa is deemed to be doing well, and areas for possible improvement. The role Unisa plays in providing access and extending the social reach and adaptation to the Covid-19 context was highlighted at the meeting, as was the use institutional data to address student retention.

Prof Puleng LenkaBula being interviewed by the panel

Next, and of importance, is the answer to the question, “What needs to be fixed?” The preliminary findings indicated the areas reflected in the infographic below as critical areas for improvement and these must be addressed within the lens of a distance education paradigm.

“Unisans, let’s pat ourselves on the shoulder for a job well done in preparations for the audit, and your conduct during the site visit”, said Professor LenkaBula in the closing meeting.

The final report is expected in the second half of the year, duly consulted with Unisa, and approved by the Higher Education Quality Committee of the CHE.

*By Refiloe Tsephe, Unisa Department of Quality Assurance and Enhancement

Publish date: 2022/05/12