Author Topic: Criteria and Guidelines for the Accreditation of Providers, SAQA Guidelines  (Read 1453 times)

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Criteria and Guidelines for the Accreditation of Providers

The Scope for the Accreditation of ETQAs

In order to pursue its objectives and execute its functions, SAQA is required to accredit bodies that will be responsible for monitoring and auditing learning provision and learning achievements against NQF registered standards and qualifications.

In accordance with the provisions of the SAQA Act, Regulations have been gazetted that outline the roles and responsibilities of various bodies within the new education and training system.

These Regulations specify that:

a) there shall be bodies responsible for monitoring and auditing achievements in terms of standards and qualifications registered on the NQF;
b) such bodies shall be accredited and their activities monitored to determine and demonstrate compliance with SAQA requirements;
c) such bodies shall be established under relevant legislation and accredited by SAQA with due regard for the Constitution, Parliamentary and provincial powers and in consultation with national education and training stakeholder representatives; and
d) such bodies shall be accredited with due regard for any accredited functions shared with other bodies in the accreditation system.

A model for implementing ETQA accreditation

The model which currently makes most operational sense for implementation in the first phase of ETQA accreditation takes its starting points from the following pragmatic realities:

a) SAQA accredits ETQAs.
b) ETQAs can be accredited in one of the three sectors for a particular set of NQF qualifications and standards.
c) Those bodies which currently have legal or statutory accreditation, assessment and quality assurance functions will be the first focus for accreditation evaluations, and this will be against existing national qualifications recorded on the interim database.
d) The first phase of accreditation will build on what exists and on practices that will be in place until at least 2001.
e) The first phase also takes into account the fact that most of the professional bodies have direct statutory powers for accreditation, which they have indicated they wish to retain.

f) Discussions with professional bodies and the Department of Labour indicate support for the broad outlines of the model. Moreover, indications are that there could be support for the model amongst some of the stakeholders and role-players in higher education and training and in SETAs (for example, the Mining Qualifications Authority Memorandum of Understanding with Professional Bodies).

Essentially the proposed model accepts that there will be some duplication in the award of standards and qualifications across ETQAs and that the central issue to be addressed is the relationships between and amongst different kinds of ETQAs. The following diagram indicates the two sectors in which we know that ETQAs will be accredited – the economic sector, and the education and training sub-system sector – and the presumed qualifications and standards for which each will be responsible.

In addition to the overlaps between each education and training sub-system and economic sector ETQA, there are also, overlaps between the two dominant forms of economic sector ETQAs.

For example, some of the statutory health councils have indicated that they want or have powers over the accreditation of providers and the certification of learners at levels below the equivalent of level 5 on the NQF. Moreover, some SETAs have indicated that they would want ETQA functions in the Higher Education and Training Band.

The lens for the implementation model for this phase is to build on international and local models which distinguish between institutional and programme evaluations and accreditation and add the dimensions of formative and general qualifications.

The model starts by holding that the integration of institutional and programme audits and evaluations is critical to the quality improvement spiral. However, this integration can be achieved in a number of ways without it having to rest in a single body. That is, this integration can be reached through a combination of structured relations and practices appropriate to the particular qualification (or standard) and to the institution or provider.

In the current critical scenario in South Africa most multi-purpose providers would have to be accredited by the relevant education and training sub-system sector ETQA, for example, the Council on Higher Education in the Higher Education and Training Band. SAQA would expect the primary focus for such multi-purpose providers to be formative education and training across a spectrum of learning pathways. (Please note that this includes professional degrees, Masters degrees and PhD research degrees).

Most single purpose providers are then likely to be accredited by an appropriate economic sector ETQA, for example, SAICA, or MQA. Here SAQA would expect the primary focus of such single purpose providers to be education and training within a specific or particular learning pathway, necessitating a one-to-one correspondence with the primary focus of the ETQA. (This approach is in keeping with the extension of accreditation sections in the ETQA Regulations [RSA, 1998a].)

The education and training sub-system sector ETQA would then be responsible for all general and formative qualifications. For example, the CHE would have responsibility for all general and formative degrees – BSc; BA; BCom – and for the quality assurance of all multipurpose providers in the HET band.

The relevant economic sector ETQA would have responsibility for all professional or occupational qualifications and standards - that is, all qualifications linked to occupational or professional practice - and for the quality assurance of single purpose providers.

In the case of specialised (occupational or profession-specific) qualifications and standards, the model calls for the education and training sub-system sector ETQAs and economic sector ETQAs to have contractual arrangements in which quality assurance activities for programme evaluations, linking the two evaluations – institution and programme. Linking the two evaluations also reduces the frequency with which a single department or faculty would have to undergo an audit or evaluation process.

In the case of the economic sector ETQAs, the model recommends that the education and training sub-system sector ETQAs have a similar contractual arrangement whereby the education and training sub-system sector ETQA would team up with the economic sector ETQA to accredit single purpose providers. Current practice is such that evaluation and audit teams comprise a range of expertise and interests to be represented in the evaluation (institutional and programme, internal and external).

The proposed model is in some sense the formalisation of these arrangements.

Justifiable need

In order to be able to accredit an ETQA, the Authority must be persuaded of the necessity for that particular ETQA. The organisation applying for accreditation is therefore required to demonstrate that it is necessary and, hence justifiable, to establish such an ETQA within the identified sector.

Some of the evidence that would fit within this category could include:

• The legislation under which the organisation seeking accreditation has been established.
• The current and projected numbers of constituent providers and learners that would be affected by the accreditation of the organisation as an ETQA.

Primary focus

This is defined in the ETQA Regulations as “that activity or objective within the sector upon which an organisation or body concentrates its efforts” and includes the NQF registered standards and qualifications that would be quality assured by such an accredited ETQA.

In its application, the organisation needs therefore to indicate both the sector and the standards or qualifications for which it wishes to be accredited. In specifying this, the organisation should state the activities or objectives within the sector on which it will concentrate its efforts. That is, the primary focus for learning and learning achievements that it will audit and monitor.

It should be noted that the primary focus for an ETQA is based upon the association of the ETQA applicant with the sector for accreditation and the identified mission of that sector. This ensures that the NQF principles of coherence and relevance are reflected in the accreditation of ETQAs.

For example, the Higher Education Act specifies the purpose and objectives of Higher Education as related to knowledge production and national development, generally as well as for the individual. The Mines Health and Safety Act specifies the purpose and objectives of the Mining Qualifications Authority in respect of broadly similar purposes and goals and adds detail specific to that particular economic sector.

In addition to this information regarding the identified mission of the organisation or body, information regarding the standards and qualifications for which accreditation is being sought could include:

• The NQF band(s) and level(s) of primary focus.
• The specific standards and qualifications that it wants to quality assure.
• The relation of the band(s) and level(s) to a coherent, progressive pattern of registered standards or qualifications within learning pathways.
• The relation of the standards or qualifications to articulation and portability within the identified pathway, other providers or ETQAs, and other pathways.
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