This fear was realised when students from the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) found out that qualifications were unaccredited.
The five courses that were found to be not accredited were the Advanced Diploma in Internal Auditing; the Advanced Diploma in Journalism; BSc in Zoology; Master of Medicine in Obstetrics and Gynaecology; and Postgraduate Diploma in Chemical Pathology.
Delegation from WSU were called to brief The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation in parliament. The delegation said engagements were taking place with relevant regulatory bodies in the sector and submitted proposals on how to address the situation, while ensuring that students are not disadvantaged.
Professor Ahmed Bawa, CEO of the University of South Africa (Unisa) says the issue stems from administrative challenges to have the academic programs registered with the South African Qualifications Authority.
He explained that before an academic course can be offered at an institution, it goes through a rigorous and arduous process. This includes meeting the standards of quality assessments from the university itself, being subjected to the accreditation process of the council of higher education and then the program becomes registered with the South African Qualifications Authority to be offered.
Bawa believes the glitch occurred during the final step where the program needs to be registered:
I think that and from what I can gather from the outcome of the portfolio committee meeting, there's commitment from the council's education and the South African qualifications authority and to rectify that administrative error
He adds that stakeholders, including the higher education department, South African Qualifications Authority and the Council for Higher Education must work together to ensure that an issue like this does not occur in the future.