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The University of Venda hosted the South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN) Accreditation Team from 25-26 October 2018. The South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN) is the statutory Council of nominated members appointed in terms of the Planning Profession Act, 2002 (Act 36 of 2002) by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform (Department of Rural Development and Land Reform) to regulate the Planning Profession in terms of the Act. One of the chief functions of SACPLAN is to professionally audit and accredit planning Institutions for purposes of accrediting planning education in order to allow graduates from Planning Schools to be registered as Professional Planners in practice. 

The purpose of the visit was to professionally accredit the Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (B.URP) programme. The B.URP was first accredited in March, 2007. The programme received its second accreditation in October, 2013. SACPLAN delegation was comprised of the following Council members, namely: Mr. Khetha Zulu – SACPLAN Chairperson (Head of Delegation), Prof. Verna Nel – Education and Training Committee (ETC) Chairperson, Dr. Hope Magidimisha – member ETC, Ms. Dakalo Sinthumule – Representative from South African Planning Institute (SAPI), Prof. Tyrnos Gumbo – Representative from Committee of Heads of Planning Schools (CHoPS), Mr. Tshisa Madima – representative from Industry (Limpopo Province), Mr. Martin Lewis – CEO SACPLAN & Ms. Lindy Hlongwa – Scribe SACPLAN. 

The two-day accreditation programme included discussion with members of the Executive Management of the University: Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Jan Ernst Crafford, Acting DVC – Academic, Senior Professor Base Khoza, DVC-Operations, Dr. Robert Martin who were represented by the Dean of the School of Environmental Sciences, Professor John Odiyo. Further discussions were held with the Head of Urban and Regional Planning Department, Dr. James Chakwizira. In addition, interviews and discussions with the Head of Quality Assurance Mr. Lufuno Netshifhefhe and Library School representative Ms. Ivy Mokwebo and Head of Technical Services from the Library Mrs Matamela Mashamba were conducted. 

Interviews and discussions with staff (that teach B.URP and offer service courses to the B.URP programme), sessional or part time staff, administrative, students, alumni and industry partners were held separately. The intention behind the full cycle consultations is to audit the programme fully and completely. 

The SACPLAN accreditation team further visited Studio (Laboratories) used by the Department in Teaching and Learning, the Library and Lecture Halls at the University. The Team spent the bulk of their time engaging in discussions with the 

Head of Department and scrutinizing the portfolio of evidence (reports, assignments, subject files, examination papers, student portfolios, research outcomes and any other work on display). In addition, the Department had prepared the three Studios as Display space for Student Practical Work by levels from 1st year – 4th Year including Fieldwork Practicals. 

The criteria for professional programme accreditation that is used by SACPLAN is based on the professional body’s new Accreditation Criteria which builds upon the Council on Higher Education (CHE) framework. The evaluation looks at namely; programme design, student recruitment, admission and selection, staffing, teaching and learning strategy, student assessment policies and procedures, infrastructure and library resources, post-graduate policies, regulations and procedures, programme co-ordination, academic development for student success, teaching and learning interactions, student assessment practices, co-ordination of work based learning, delivery of post-graduate programmes, student retention and throughput rates and programme impact. The above referred indicators are assessed in terms of the generic, core and functional competencies of the Standards Generating Body for the Planning Profession. The table below summarises the evaluation criteria, judgments and outcomes used. Evaluation against SACPLAN Accreditation Criteria  Classification of accreditation outcomes 
Complies and in certain instances exceeds minimum standards: All minimum standards specified in the criteria were met and in addition, examples of good practice and innovation were identified in relation to several criteria  Accredited 
Needs improvement: Not all minimum standards specified in the criteria were met. Problems/weaknesses could be addressed in a short period of time.  Accredited (with conditions) 
Does not meet minimum standards: Did not meet the majority of minimum standards specified in the criteria.  Not Accredited 

 

A verbal feedback to the University of Venda (UNIVEN) was given by the Chairperson of the Accreditation Panel – Mr. Ketha Zulu. In giving verbal feedback the SACPLAN Accreditation panel noted the following positive and strong points of the Urban and Regional Planning Department, namely; 

 The Accreditation Panel was well received at the University; 

 Appreciation of Project and Problem based learning (Bridging theory with practice); 

 Evidence of passionate staff and enthusiastic students; 

 Senior management is supportive and responsive to needs; and 

 Well-resourced studios with quality outputs. 

The University has since received official communication of the record of the outcome of the SACPLAN accreditation visit that was held on the 25th -26th of October, 2018. The outcome of the visit is as follows: 

 Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (BURP): 

Complies and in certain instances exceeds minimum standards. 

 BURP (SAQA ID 91872) is ACCREDITED for the next 5 years. 

 There will be recommendations for improvement and consideration in the full report in keeping with the practice of Continual Improvement. 

The implication of the above is that graduates who successfully completed this degree may register as Candidate Planners and after obtaining the required experience register as Professional Planners in terms of the Planning Profession Act, 2002. SACPLAN will submit a full report of the accreditation visit to the University 

by end of February 2019. An improvement as well as Action Plan must be submitted by UNIVEN to SACPLAN by August 2019. The next accreditation visit in respect of the above mentioned qualification will take place during October 2023. 

The Dean of the School of Environmental Sciences and Head of Department of Urban and Regional Planning (on behalf of staff members in the Department) wishes to express their deepest and sincere appreciation to the Executive Management as well as the University Community at large for the support the programme continues to receive from them that made it possible to retain the professional accreditation status. They also look forward to continued support as they address the areas that require improvement. The School and Department will endeavor to communicate with all University stakeholders as they address summarized areas that require improvement once the full accreditation report has been received. 

Issued by: Department of Communications and Marketing 
University of Venda, Tel: 015 962 8525 
Date: 16 November 2018 

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