Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does the NQF look in the new NQF landscape?
- What is the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)?
The NQF is a comprehensive system approved by the Minister of Higher Education and Training for the classification, registration, publication and articulation of quality-assured national qualifications.
- What are the objectives of the NQF?
The objectives are to:
- create a single integrated national framework for learning achievements;
- facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within education, training and career paths;
- enhance the quality of education and training;
- accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities;
Contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large.
- What are sub-frameworks in the NQF?
The NQF is a single integrated system which comprises of three co-ordinated qualifications sub-frameworks, for:
- General and Further Education and Training
- Higher Education; and
- Trades and Occupations.
- What are Quality Councils (QC)?
QCs are new sector-based structures responsible for the development and quality assurance of qualifications in their sub-frameworks of the NQF. There are three QCs for the three main sectors in education namely general and further education and training, higher education, and the occupational sector. Umalusi is the QC for General and Further Education and Training as provided for in the GENFETQA Amendment Act. The Council on Higher Education (CHE) is the QC for Higher Education as provided for in the Higher Education Amendment Act. The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations is the QC for occupations and is provided for in the Skills Development Amendment Act.
What is the future of the SGBs in the new landscape?
- SGBs are currently substructures of SAQA and were originally assembled as stakeholder representatives with the requisite "expertise" for the purposes of developing National qualifications.
In terms of the new NQF Act the operational responsibility for the generation of qualifications will be the responsibility of the Quality Councils, and they will decide how best to utilise the expertise of SGBs.
It seems likely that the new landscape will still need the expertise that characterised the SGBs and thence will develop new communities of practice to cover all sectors.
What does SAQA do in the new NQF landscape?
- What are SAQA's objectives?
SAQA's objectives are to:
- advance the objectives of the NQF;
- oversee the further development and implementation of the NQF; and
- co-ordinate the sub-frameworks.
- What must SAQA do to advance the objectives of the NQF?
- perform its functions subject to the NQF Act, and oversee the implementation of the NQF and ensure the achievement of its objectives;
- advise the Minister of Higher Education and Training on NQF matters in terms of the NQF Act;
- comply with the policy determined by the Minister of Higher Education and Training;
- consider the Minister's guidelines which set out the government's strategy and priorities for the NQF;
- oversee the implementation of the NQF in accordance with an implementation framework prepared by SAQA after consultation with the QCs;
- develop a system of collaboration to guide the mutual relations of SAQA and the QCs, and resolve disputes regarding the QCs.
- What is SAQA's role with respect to the level descriptors?
SAQA must develop the content of level descriptors for each level of the NQF and reach agreement on the content with the QCs. It must publish the agreed level descriptors in the Gazette and ensure that they remain current and appropriate.
- What is SAQA's role with respect to qualifications?
Firstly, SAQA must develop and implement policy and criteria, after consultation with the QCs for the development, registration and publication of qualifications and part-qualifications, which must include the following requirements:
- The relevant sub-framework must be identified on any document relating to the registration and publication of a qualification or part-qualification;
- Each sub-framework must have a distinct nomenclature for its qualification types which is appropriate to the relevant sub-framework and consistent with international practice.
Secondly, SAQA must register a qualification or part-qualification recommended by a QC if it meets the relevant criteria;
Thirdly, SAQA must develop policy and criteria, after consultation with the QCs, for assessment, recognition of prior learning and credit accumulation and transfer.
- Will SAQA register qualifications from the QCTO on the NQF?
The new NQF Act mandates SAQA to develop policy and criteria for the qualifications submitted by the three QCs, and register them, provided they meet the criteria.
- What is SAQA's role with respect to professional bodies?
SAQA must develop and implement policy and criteria for recognising a professional body and registering a professional designation for the purposes of this Act, after consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies of expert practitioners in occupational fields and with the QCs; and recognise a professional body and register its professional designation if the relevant criteria have been met.
- How does SAQA advance international relations?
SAQA must collaborate with its international counterparts on all matters of mutual interest concerning qualifications frameworks; and inform the QCs and other interested parties about international practice in the development and management of qualifications frameworks.
- What is the role of research at SAQA?
SAQA must conduct or commission investigations on issues of importance to the development and implementation of the NQF, including periodic studies of the impact of the NQF on South African education, training and employment. The findings of such investigations must be published.
- What are SAQA's other deliverables?
SAQA must maintain a national learners' records database comprising registers of national qualifications, part-qualifications, learner achievements, recognised professional bodies, professional designations and associated information. SAQA must evaluate foreign qualifications and also provide an advisory service consistent with the NQF Act. SAQA must also inform the public about the NQF.
- What are framework levels?
The NQF is organised as a series of learning achievements arranged in ascending order from one to ten. Each level on the NQF is described by a statement of learning achievement known as a level descriptor.
- What is a level descriptor?
A level descriptor provides a broad indication of learning achievements or outcomes that are appropriate to a qualification at that level. There is one set of level descriptors for the NQF.
Recognition of Prior Learning
- Why do we do RPL?
Here are some of the reasons why RPL is done:
- To redress the historical disadvantages like exclusion of many people from education and training because of regulations used by institutions, exclusion from certain jobs of certain population groups, etc.
- To validate people's skills and knowledge
- For broader development of individuals
- To facilitate access to jobs and progression in career paths
- For recognition in terms of grading and pay/salary
- For planning through skills audits
- To promote employment equity
- If I cannot speak English, can I go for RPL?
Yes you can, depending on the requirements of the qualification or unit standards you want recognition for. The RPL policy states that:
"In some instances, training needs to include an explicit component on language bias, where language may become a hindrance to assessment. Particularly where candidates make use of "colloquialism" for work processes, equipment and tools. Where demonstration of skills does not require formal language skills, assessors have to be sensitive to the use of words and terms common within a particular context".
- How does RPL assessment differ from the other general assessment?
General assessment has got the formative and summative components. With RPL assessment, it is mostly the summative component with formative done only by a candidate where further action is taken after the advisory session. When assessing candidates for RPL, they are assessed against the same Unit standards and exit level outcomes of qualifications using the same assessment criteria as for other full time learners. What is demanded of a full time learner has to be met fully by an RPL candidate during assessment.
Assessment of RPL learners can be on a one to one basis or even on group basis just like full time learners.
Certificates obtained through RPL should be the same as those obtained through full time learning so as to prevent discrimination of the RPL candidates.
- In the absence of providers ready to implement RPL what do we do with candidates wanting RPL now?
Depending on what these candidates want RPL for and also the level at which they want to be assessed, they can be referred to centres already implementing RPL such as UNISA, U.O.F.S. for help. ETQAs should be contacted for a list of accredited RPL centres within their sectors.
Accreditation of Providers
- What are providers supposed to do while unit standards and qualifications are not yet registered in their area?
Providers are encouraged to approach their respective ETQAs and declare their intention to apply for accreditation. Providers could in the meantime set up systems and procedures to meet the criteria of accreditation. ETQAs also have an option to grant providers provisional accreditation for a period of not more than two years. This arrangement will allow for quality assurance of whatever current provider programmes there are.
- What do providers do in cases where MoUs have not been concluded between ETQAs particularly the HEQC, as this is required for registration with the Department of Education?
An MoU is meant to address duplications between or among ETQAs, which might not always affect accreditation process. In the case of the Higher Education band, affected providers are requested to approach this issue with their respective ETQAs. The HEQC has suggested different models in order to co-operate with bodies, including ETQAs, having an interest in the higher education band.
- What support is available for SMME providers?
SAQA has published a document called Guidelines for ETQAs: Equitable Accreditation of SMME Providers of Education and Training, which put forward mechanisms and proposals on how SMME providers may be supported and assisted with accreditation and thus be brought into the NQF realm.
Questions frequently asked by Learners
- Do learners who have matriculated have to repeat the FET language unit standards?
No. However, the learners who are eligible for RPL against those unit standards need to be accommodated.
- I want to find an accredited provider who offers a specific qualification or unit standard. How do I go about finding such a provider?
ETQAs keep databases that contain among others their constituent providers and the unit standards and qualifications that they are accredited to offer. Therefore, you need to contact the relevant ETQA for the information.
- Is there any way in which the exorbitant fees for 2 or 3-day courses (e.g. Assessor training) can be regulated?
It is a bit difficult to regulate the prices, as these providers are private and running businesses. One has to "shop around" for a provider with a reasonable fee within one's budget. The other route is to complain to the appropriate ETQA if one feels that the fees are exorbitant and unfair.
- Can universities and schools offer learnerships?
A Learnership agreement involves a learner, an employer or a group of employers and an accredited provider. Yes, universities and schools can and will be involved in learnerships depending on the NQF Level of those.
- I want to study for an MBA degree at Vulindlela University. Is it registered or accredited by SAQA?
Registration and accreditation are two separate processes.
Registration means the granting of an application to operate as a private higher/further education and training institution in terms of the Higher Education Amendment Act of 2008/ Further Education Act of 1998, offering such programmes leading to registered qualifications on sites as the registrar may approve in terms of the Higher Education Regulations/Further Education Regulations.
The registration of private higher and further education institutions is done by the national Department of Higher Education and Training. Queries regarding private higher education institutions can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and those regarding further education institutions can be e-mailed to registrarFET@dhet.gov.za or visit the Department's Website at http://www.dhet.gov.za
The SAQA Website also provides an up-to-date list of registered private higher education institutions obtained from the Department of Higher Education and Training's Website.
Accreditation is the certification, usually for a particular period of time, of a person, a body or an institution as having the capacity to fulfil a particular function within the quality assurance system.
The accreditation of programmes or qualifications offered by higher education institutions is done by the Council on Higher Education. For more information please e-mail email@example.com. Further education and training programmes or qualifications are accredited by Umalusi (Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training) and you can reach them at 012 349-1510.
- What are the SAQA Trademarks?
South African Qualifications Authority
South African Qualifications Authority together with the Q device
National Qualifications Framework
National Learners' Records Database
- Who can use the SAQA Trademarks?
ETQAs need to apply to the Executive Office of SAQA for permission for the usage of the SAQA trademarks, with the undertaking that they will control the use thereof.
Accredited providers need to apply to their relevant ETQAs for permission to use the SAQA trademarks.
- Can I, as an accredited provider, use the SAQA name in my advertisements?
Firstly you need to have permission from your relevant ETQA.
Secondly there are acceptable principles to guide you as to how to use the SAQA trademarks. These are available on the SAQA website under the Policy on acceptable usage of SAQA trademarks by stakeholders.
- Does SAQA provide guidelines on the ideal relationship between formative and summative assessment in an integrated assessment system?
SAQA has developed guidelines for assessment which are contained in the documents entitled: Criteria and Guidelines for the Assessment of NQF Registered Standards and Qualifications and the Criteria and Guidelines for the Registration of Assessors. The ideal relationship between formative and summative assessment has to be considered within the notion of continuous assessment and an understanding of the difference in purpose of formative and summative assessment. Continuous assessment embraces both formative and summative assessment. The NQF system allows for both types of assessment to be administered on a continuous basis over the course of a structured learning experience. For more information, refer particularly to the Criteria and Guidelines for the Assessment of NQF Registered Standards and Qualifications document.
- What do I do if I want to be registered as an assessor?
You have to undergo training on the generic assessor unit standard with a provider that is registered/accredited by the ETDP SETA. If you are an assessor at present, you only need to be assessed for competence on the generic assessor unit standard by the ETDP SETA.
- Do teachers have to be certificated and registered as assessors?
Yes, as stipulated in the Criteria and Guidelines for the Registration of Assessors, everyone who assesses NQF qualifications or unit standards should be certificated by the ETDP SETA and registered by the relevant ETQA in each sector.
Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA)
- What is a SETA?
A Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) is a body established under the Skills Development Act (RSA, 1998c) whose main purpose is to contribute to the improvement of skills in South Africa through achieving a more favourable balance between demand and supply, and by ensuring that education and training
- acknowledges and enhances the skills of the current work force, (in addition to ensuring that new entrants to the labour market are adequately trained)
- meets agreed standards within a national framework
- is provided subject to validation and quality assurance; and
- where appropriate, is benchmarked against international standards (NTB, 1999).
The full list of SETA functions is contained in the Skills Development Act (RSA, 1998c).
- monitor education and training in the sector.
Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services
- What must I do to have my foreign (non-South African) qualifications evaluated? What is the cost involved? How long does it take?
Application guidelines (PDF) include the following information:
- What we need to do an evaluation (contact information, documentation and payment)
- When evaluation results can be expected
- Other important notes on the evaluation procedure
- What are the criteria applied for evaluation of foreign qualification?
The evaluation of foreign qualifications follows international practice as agreed in conventions in various regions of the world. The criteria are outlined in the SAQA document Criteria and Guidelines for the Evaluation of Foreign Qualifications.
Evaluations aim to determine the "local currency" of foreign qualifications. The evaluation procedure is based mainly on the structural analysis of foreign education systems and compares foreign qualifications to South African qualifications in terms of features such as -
- status of the awarding institution in the country of origin
- purpose of study
- admission requirements
- duration and mode of study
- credit weighting and grades
- course composition and requirements
- learning outcomes as indicated by the professional and/or academic status of the qualification holder
- qualification framework levels in the country of origin (if applicable)
SAQA evaluations offer general placement recommendations referring to the levels of the National Qualifications Framework , which should preferably be supplemented by purpose-specific assessments by the institution(s) concerned.
- What is the legal status of these evaluations?
SAQA derives it's mandate to render an evaluation and advisory service for foreign qualifications from the National Qualifications Framework Act, 67 of 2008. The service is revised on an ongoing basis to continuously improve alignment with NQF principles and best international practice.
As suggested by the legal mandate, the recommendations made on certificates of evaluation are advisory and therefore not prescriptive or binding on other institutions.
- What is SAQA's actual role regarding admission to study, professional registration and employment?
The Directorate Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services' role is to advise on the minimum levels that foreign qualifications could be recognised at. This advice is not based on an in-depth comparison of content (curricula, projects, research reports) in specific areas of specialisation, or the establishment of learning outcomes in the sense of actual knowledge and competency. It is therefore necessary that education and training providers, professional bodies and employers take responsibility for further assessment according to their internal criteria relevant for the specific context. This may warrant an adaptation of the recommended placement by SAQA and require support in terms of upgrading that may be necessary, as well as the monitoring of progress of students and workers. Feedback to SAQA about the appropriateness of the initial evaluation is seen as crucial information and is therefore invited.
- I need my South African qualifications evaluated for study / work purposes abroad. What must I do?
Recognition of South African qualifications in foreign countries is the prerogative of evaluating agencies in the host countries. Evaluations for the abovementioned purposes will therefore convey information on South African qualifications within the local context to assist foreign evaluating bodies, but will not suggest any comparison to the qualifications or levels in the host country. For this service normal application procedure (PDF) applies.
The contact details of overseas evaluating agencies can also be provided by the Directorate: Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services at SAQA.
Registration of New Standards and Qualifications
- What is the difference between a qualification and a learning programme, and can a programme be registered on the National Qualifications Framework?
The essential difference between a qualification and a learning programme is that a qualification is a learning outcome, and a learning programme the process one embarks upon in fulfilment of that outcome.
A qualification means the formal recognition of the achievement of learning. A learning programme on the other hand is the process which one embarks upon in order to fulfil that achievement.
A qualification is characterized by learning outcomes - critical cross-field and specific outcomes - which provide the learner with opportunities for further (lifelong) learning. Subject to SAQA approval, a qualification can be registered on the National Qualifications Framework. Once thus registered, the qualification becomes "public domain property". A learning programme is a provider-specific course or programme offered to learners against a particular qualification, and is subject to quality assurance by an accredited ETQA. Learning programmes, then, cannot be registered on the National Qualifications Framework.
Learnerships and Standards Setting
- How do I get a SAQA Id number for registration of learnerships?
All learnerships should lead to a qualification registered on the NQF. When a SETA wants to register a learnership they should apply to the Department of Labour.
- What is a Short Course?
A short course is a type of short learning programme through which a learner may or may not be awarded credits, depending on the purpose of the programme.
A Credit-bearing short course is a type of short learning programme for which credits, in relation to the course's contribution to a particular programme, unit standard and/or (part) qualification, is are awarded. (Paraphrased from CHE, 2001:44). A credit-bearing short course contains less than 120 credits.
A Non-credit-bearing short course is a type of short learning programme for which no credits are awarded in relation to unit standards or (part) qualifications depending on the purpose and/or assessment of the programme.
- Do short Course Providers qualify for levy grants (i.e. in terms of Skills Development Act of 1998)?
There is a belief that employers can only claim their levies back when making use of accredited providers. This is not entirely correct. In the Government Gazette (No.20865 of 7 February 2000) it is made clear that the Skills Development Levies Act provides for recovery of the levy payment based on the submission of Workplace Skills Plans (WSPs), Workplace Skills Implementation Plans (WSIPs) and the submission of the names of skills development facilitators (SDFs), not on the basis of making use of accredited providers and NQF-aligned learning programmes.
- How is Short Courses related to Skills Programmes?
A Skills Programme is occupationally based and when completed will constitute credits towards a qualification registered in terms of the National Qualifications Framework. Provisioning is undertaken by a training provider accredited by an Education and Training Quality Assurance Body (Skills Development Act No. 97 of 1998). A skills programme is a type of short learning programme.
A short course is an instructor-led training course that focuses on the transfer of a narrow range of methods and skills. At the end of short courses learners should be able to apply their newly gained knowledge and skills to practical situations.
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