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CPUT students told not to panic over unaccredited qualification

Cape Town: Students raise concerns over unaccredited qualification at CPUT. Picture supplied

Cape Town: Students raise concerns over unaccredited qualification at CPUT. Picture supplied

Published May 21, 2022

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Cape Town - Students studying for the yet to be accredited Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) have been told not to panic amid accreditation concerns.

A number of concerned students reached out to the Weekend Argus after they found out that their course is not accredited by the South African Council for Planners (Sacplan).

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The regulatory body, in conjunction with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Council on Higher Education (CHE), accredits the qualification after going through it and are satisfied that the standards set have been met.

One of the students doing her third year said they were informed by CPUT that they will be phasing out the National Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning and the course now will be a Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning.

“We were also told that the fourth year will no longer be called a Btech but now an Advanced Diploma. It didn't seem like a huge deal until we found out that the course is not accredited by Sacplan,” said the worried student.

The Department of Higher Education and Training announced National Diplomas and Btech will be phased out over time and replaced by Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas and Postgraduate Diplomas. This started in 2020.

“I personally contacted Sacplan, as well as my mother. I can't recall the name of the lady I spoke to but she said that they have to be invited to the campus by the head of the department to evaluate the course. We have had numerous discussions as students with some of the lecturers, with no help. The faculty is so small so bringing up the subject becomes a bit of an issue. At this point, we are just studying, but we don't know what's going on,” the student said.

The Weekend Argus contacted Sacplan and the registrar, Martin Lewis confirmed that the qualification is not accredited but the students should not be alarmed yet.

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“We have not come to evaluate the qualification since the phasing out of the national diploma started two years ago.

“It is a new qualification and is still valid as it is registered with SAQA. Once this cohort completes the qualification, we will then be invited by the institution to come and assess the quality and standard and if there are issues we will address them with the institution,” Lewis said.

Lewis added that this is normal whenever there is a new qualification and they are comfortable with what CPUT has been offering. “We do visit every five years to evaluate the qualification and I do not foresee any issues with the qualification offered by CPUT, but I cannot commit that everything is above board.”

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The Weekend Argus reported last week that a number of dental technology graduates from CPUT have been left in limbo as their qualifications are deemed useless.

The graduates cannot find employment as they are not registered with the South African Dental Technicians Council (SADTC). The university is not the only institution facing this dilemma; Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and Durban University of Technology (DUT) graduates are also left in limbo.

Head of the of Department of Urban and Regional Planning at CPUT, Associate Professor Masilonyane Mokhele, said the university introduced the HEQSF-aligned Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning in 2018, to replace the National Diploma in Town and Regional Planning, which he added was not a new qualification.

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“during the HEQSF transition process in 2013/2014, the National Diploma required amendments to align it to the HEQSF. With this background, the National Diploma was recurriculated and the title changed to Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning. Two main categories of the Diploma’s accreditation and registration (which occur at different phases and under the ambit of different legislative framework) should be noted.

Firstly, the amended curriculum of the Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning has been accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) [SAQA ID No. 100733] as mandated by the National Qualifications Framework Act, No. 67 of 2008.

Secondly, the Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning is expected to be professionally accredited by the South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN) in accordance with the Planning Profession Act, No. 36 of 2002.“

He added that the logic of SACPLAN’s approach to professional accreditation is that the assessment of qualifications is undertaken once the first cohort of students graduate, after which the decision would be retrospectively applied to students who would have already graduated.

“Stakeholders are aware of this logic as it has been applied over time at different universities in the country. It should be noted that the first cohort of the Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning students graduated in April 2021. SACPLAN has already been requested to assess the qualification, and discussions are underway on the proposed accreditation site visit. Internal quality management systems are in place and regular monitoring & evaluation is conducted to ensure qualifications meet the minimum accreditation requirements.”

Weekend Argus

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