A proposal for undergraduate curriculum reform in South Africa: The case for a flexible curriculum structure


Council on Higher Education

Low throughput in undergraduate higher education, and the resultant shortage of graduates in the country, is a pervasive challenge facing the higher education sector. In 2012 the Council on Higher Education (CHE) convened a task team led by Professor Njabulo Ndebele to undertake a review of the undergraduate curriculum structure and to investigate the implications of potential curriculum restructuring. Finding that the current curriculum structure poses a systemic obstacle to access and success which can only be overcome through deliberate intervention at a systemic level, the task team proposes the introduction of an extended and flexible curriculum structure for undergraduate education in South Africa.

The task team’s report (August 2013) makes the case for the proposed new structure and presents the results of its investigation into the envisaged impact of an extended and flexible curriculum on throughput rates and graduate output as well as its conclusions regarding the financial and other practical implications of the proposal.

The report was released for public comment from August to December 2013 and, based on feedback received the CHE will advise the Minister of Higher Education and Training regarding the desirability and implementation of an extended curriculum structure.

The task team’s report can be downloaded from the CHE website at:


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The Research Bulletin on Post-School Education and Training is prepared by the Directorate: Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation. Enquiries or contributions may be directed to: Lesego RamoseTel: 012 312 5657 Email: dhetresearch@dhet.gov.za Department of Higher Education and Training, 123 Francis Baard Street, Pretoria 0001