n South African Journal of Higher Education - The consequences of the absence of a `norms and standards' legislative framework for institutional accreditation in private higher education : a disconnect between policy, expectations and quality assurance practice




This article uses policy analysis to provide a rigorous reflection on the state of quality in private higher education institutions. It is based on a case study analysis of twenty private higher education institutions across South Africa that were evaluated for accreditation in 2003 and 2004. The analysis reveals that the majority of these institutions remain ill-informed regarding the norms and standards that shape the higher education teaching and learning enterprise and that which is expected of them before they apply for accreditation through the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC). The article investigates how the deafening policy silence on clear-cut <I>norms and standards legislative framework for institutional accreditation of private higher education institutions</I>, has created unevenness in the system and colluded with the creation of inequalities in private higher education. It also reflects on the trends of quality assurance inside these institutions within the context of untold policy expectations and it maps the policy gaps that need to be closed. While it is acknowledged that the study focuses on institutions that seemingly provide a negative perspective while there are cutting-edge examples going unrecognised, this negative perspective as a unit of analysis necessitates the writing of the <I>norms and standards legislative framework for institutional accreditation of private higher education institutions</I>. The article concludes by identifying areas that need further investigation for purposes of policy formulation and the redesign of the quality assurance enterprise in South African private higher education.


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