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HomeMedico-LegalMB and ChB among ‘unaccredited’ Walter Sisulu programmes flagged

MB and ChB among ‘unaccredited’ Walter Sisulu programmes flagged

Thousands of degrees awarded by Walter Sisulu University (WSU), including for Bachelor of Medicine (MB) and Bachelor of Surgery (ChB), were claimed by the university’s registrar to be invalid, reports DispatchLIVE.

However, the Council on Higher Education denied this but said it would “do a full institutional audit at WSU”.

A total of 28 programmes offered by WSU, including master’s degrees awarded to medical specialists, are allegedly not registered or accredited, according to the DispatchLIVE report.

It said students had been studying courses that are apparently not registered or accredited by the CHE, and the university has allowed students to graduate despite their programmes being red-flagged by the university’s registrar as “questionable and not in good standing”.

An internal letter addressed to the university’s leadership asserted that 2,080 students, between 2019 and 2021, graduated from non-accredited programmes.

In the same period, 7,637 students are believed to have been registered at the university under the non-accredited programmes.

In October 2021, the university’s registrar recommended in an internal e-mail that 12 post-graduate students should not be allowed to graduate because of the non-compliant status of their programmes.

In a letter to vice-chancellor Professor Rushiella Songca, and deputy vice-chancellor Professor Mzikayise Binza, WSU’s registrar Dr Lulamile Ntonzima, said: “I am not comfortable to issue certificates, sign them, and pass them to you for your signature when I know they are not in good standing and/or are questionable. Please advise. These students must not be allowed to graduate until the programme status is cleared up. (There should be) no issuing of certificates … Campus management must give leadership.”

At the WSU’s Buffalo City and Mthatha campuses, the questionable programmes include Advanced Diploma in Internal Auditing, Advanced Diploma in Journalism, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery; Bachelor of Social Science; Bachelor of Science (Honours); Bachelor of Social Work; BSc (Honours) in Computer Science; and BSc (Honours) in Zoology.

The university convocation issued a statement calling on university managers to address the concerns directly, truthfully and immediately to avoid irredeemable damage to the university.

News24 reports that the Council on Higher Education (CHE), the accrediting body for higher education qualifications and programmes, has partly cleared the university of some claims of non-accredited courses, and clarified those which do meet the requirements.

The CHE said that it, and the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), had reviewed the courses offered at the university after media reports that more than a dozen of them weren’t accredited.

“The three organisations, CHE, SAQA, and DHET, can confirm that the following programmes referenced in the articles meet all the requirements for offering ie, they are on the PQM of the university, they are accredited, and they are registered on the NQF,” said the CHE in a statement.

Programmes that meet the requirements
• Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in Senior Phase and Further Education and Training Phase Teaching, including the PGCE in Senior Phase and Further Education (Humanities)
• PGCE in Senior Phase and Further Education (Languages)
• PGCE in Senior Phase and Further Education (Science)
• Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
• Bachelor of Social Science
• Bachelor of Social Sciences
• Bachelor of Social Science Extended (ECP)
• Bachelor of Social Science (ECP)
• Bachelor of Social Sciences Honours
• Bachelor of Social Science (Honours)
• Bachelor of Social Work
• BSc Honours in Computer Science
• Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
• Bachelor of Computer Science (ECP)
• Doctor of Philosophy in Natural Sciences
• Master of Medicine in Diagnostic Radiology
• Master of Medicine in Family Medicine
• Master of Medicine in Orthopaedic Surgery
• Master of Medicine in Paediatrics and Child Health
• Master of Medicine in Psychiatry
• Master of Medicine in Paediatric Surgery
• Master of Science in Chemical Pathology
• Master of Science in Physiological Sciences
• Master of Science in Medical Microbiology

The CHE said that five programmes were continuations of legacy qualifications that were formally accredited as aligned to the Higher Education Qualifications Framework.

These programmes are:
• Advanced Diploma in Internal Auditing
• Advanced Diploma in Journalism
• BSc Honours in Zoology
• Master of Medicine in Obstetrics and Gynaecology
• Postgraduate Diploma in Chemical Pathology.

“In 2013, a revised Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF) was gazetted as policy, replacing the HEQF, and all higher education institutions had to align their legacy qualifications to the HEQSF.

“New student registrations could be taken into the legacy qualifications until 31 December 2019, after which the programmes had to be taught out or a new programme put in place that enabled continued offering in the area,” said the CHE, adding that the five qualifications fell under this category and should be in teach-out until new replacement programmes are accredited and registered.

The CHE said that the postgraduate diploma in Library and Information Services was a legacy programme that hasn’t been offered since 2019.

The organisation also met with WSU to confirm its record.

“The CHE is also currently undertaking a full institutional audit at Walter Sisulu University as part of a national round of institutional audits that is under way. Complementary to this process, the CHE will undertake a full audit of the qualifications and programmes being offered by the university to ensure full compliance with regulatory requirements. The institution has already initiated processes that will support the CHE audit of programmes and qualifications,” it said.

Non-accreditation of the WSU courses is not a new issue. In February 2020, MedicalBrief ran a story about 19 medical orthotics and prosthetics students at WSU discovering, after six years of study, that their courses was not accredited with the Council for Higher Education.

This would have meant they could not graduate, but fortunately, after negotiations, other universities and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) allowed them to graduate through their institutions.


Daily Dispatch article – Thousands of WSU degrees may not be valid (Open access)


News24 article – Council on Higher Education partly clears Walter Sisulu University on accreditation furore (Open access)
Full TimesLIVE report – WSU convocation calls for transparency from varsity after claims some of its degrees may be invalid (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


WSU's unaccredited medical orthotics and prosthetics degree a blow for students


87 Cuba-trained doctors graduate from WSU


Medical schools face PAIA applications over admission requirements



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