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Glossary of Terms

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice are expert groups of peers representing knowledge fields and disciplines, or professional practices in higher education CoPs, and are the preferred origins of standards for the QAF.

Generative methodology

A generative methodology, in the context of the QAF, is a method for developing and reflecting on standards and their associated guidelines that creates a deeper understanding in the users of the standards and guidelines to find opportunities for solutions and innovation in order to stay agile and be relevant.

Graduate attributes

Graduate attributes are the qualities, knowledge, skills and values that students should acquire at an institution through their varied experiences. They include critical thinking, ethical and professional behaviour of a graduate and the capacity of a graduate to take what has been learnt beyond the site of learning in order to become an active citizen.

Higher Education Practice Standards

Higher Education Practice Standards are codes of practice for quality assurance in higher education, considered and adhered to by HEIs in all aspects of their activities and in all types of higher education provision.

Quality assurance

Quality assurance in higher education in South Africa involves evaluating and providing evidence of the extent to which institutions have put in place the measures needed to achieve i) the goals and purposes they have identified for themselves and ii) programmes that are able to deliver a set of learning experiences which will support students in attaining the qualifications to which they lead.

Quality enhancement

The development and implementation of initiatives by an institution to raise its standards and the quality of its provisioning beyond threshold standards and benchmarks.

Quality improvement

Quality Improvement is the development by an institution of a planned programme of activities to institutionalise a quality culture and to provide for better quality than existed previously. This may be as a direct response to an internal institutional review or an external peer review, e.g., by the CHE or a professional body.

Quality management

Quality management comprises an integrated quality assurance system that includes quality support, ongoing quality development and enhancement, and concomitant quality monitoring. The emphasis is less on assuring that quality thresholds are met than on assuring an integrated, deliberate, continuous, systematic and measurable improvement in student experience, such that these improvements support students’ own efforts to achieve success.

Quality management systems

The institutional arrangements that assure the quality of learning and teaching, assessment, research, and community engagement. Such an integrated, internal system supports, develops, enhances, and monitors the institution’s delivery of the core functions of higher education.

Quality promotion

Quality promotion is the development of a programme of activities to institutionalise a quality culture in higher education in addition to the institution’s commitment to continuous quality improvement


Reflexivity is the cyclical process of reflection on, and in action for a sustained improvement of quality over time.

Student experience

Is regarded as students’ comprehensive and holistic engagement with a particular institution, their own efforts and experience of various modes of learning and teaching, curricular design within programmes, assessment practices, access to and use of appropriate learning resources, the management of student enrolment as well as academic and non-academic student support and development.

Student success

The individual student, as the attainment of graduate attributes that are personally, professionally and socially valuable; for the institution, it refers to students’ academic persistence in completing their studies, academic results that reflect equity of success in terms of race, gender, and disability, as well as their achieving credible results within a minimum time to completion; successful entry into employment or some other form of economic activity and/or successfully progressing to postgraduate studies.