Recognised Qualifications

What is a Qualification?

A qualification is an official record that proves you have finished a course and learned the necessary skills. In South Africa, qualifications (accredited courses) are listed on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

The NQF awards students with national accredited qualifications based on the knowledge and skills they have learned. The NQF system is split up into three education bands:

  • GET: General Education and Training
  • FET: Further Education and Training
  • HET: Higher Education and Training

Each qualification fits into a specific band. Here is a breakdown of the different NQF levels and where they fit in. 

NQF Level

Qualification Type

Higher Education and Training


Post-Doctoral Research Degrees



Masters Degrees


Professional Qualifications

Honours Degrees



National 1st Degrees


Higher Certificates


National Certificate

Occupational Awards

Further Education and Training


Grade 12


Grade 11


Grade 10

General Education and Training


Grade 9

ABET Level 4

GET Certificate

Qualifications and Unit Standards

As mentioned, a qualification is a formal acknowledgement of the level of education you have achieved. Subject to SAQA endorsement, a qualification can be registered on the NQF at a particular level. A specific number of credits are allocated to the successful completion of a registered qualification.

To check which qualifications are available and how many credits they are worth, you can search the SAQA qualification database. They have a register of all the recognised qualifications. It will also tell you which service provider offers the course. 

Unit standards are also registered at specific levels on the NQF. You can collect credits for completed unit standards towards a qualification. Unit standards can be checked on the SAQA unit standards database.

What is a Unit Standard?

According to the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), a unit standard is, “A registered statement of desired education and training outcomes and its associated assessment criteria, together with administrative and other information as specified in the regulations”.

What is the NQF?

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) measures and verifies the level of knowledge and skills achieved after completing an accredited course. When a student’s qualification is registered on the NQF, it means that they have obtained nationally-recognised knowledge and skills.

What is SAQA?

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)’s objective is to:

  • Promote the objectives of the NQF;
  • Oversee the further development and implementation of the NQF; and
  • Coordinate the elements within the NQF.