Desi's Glossary

When you visit the College SA website, read my blogs, or speak to an Educational Planner from Colleges SA, you may notice that there are certain words everyone uses. You may also notice that other colleges and universities use words that look like English but make no sense! Understanding what these words mean (finding out that they are actually English words), and how they relate to me, took me awhile to figure out – by myself, I should add!

So, to save you time and frustration, I’ve made a list of the frequently used words/ terms and their meaning.


Word/ Term



An official record or document (such as a certificate or diploma) which shows that you have completed a course of study or training and are qualified to do something.

Part-time studies

Part-time studies usually refer to studying while you work. This means that studying is not your only focus.

Full-time studies

Full-time studies mean that your main focus is studying.


An accredited course means that the course complies with the official academic standards of an accrediting body.

Provider programme

Provider programmes are courses that were designed by College SA to help a student improve their knowledge and skills. These programmes are not qualifications. They are specifically designed for skills development.

Distance learning

Distance learning means that you study by yourself at home. You don’t attend any face-to-face classes.

Face-to-face classes

Face-to-face classes means that you go to classes, with other students, on a campus.

Study guide

The College SA study guide is a booklet that summarises the chapters in your textbook. It highlights which sections are most important, and also has activities and assessments to test your knowledge of each chapter.


Tutors are the people appointed by College SA, on either a full-time or part-time basis, to assist students with study queries, explain course material where needed, and mark assignments.

Educational Planner

An Educational Planner is the first person from College SA that you will speak to. They will help you choose the right course, send you the registration documents and enrol you in the course. They will also help you sort out any issues you may have during your studies.

Online classroom

The online classroom is a web-based portal with discussion forums and threads. Here you can talk to other students studying the same course, as well as your course tutors.


Registration is the process where you complete documents with all your information, in order to enrol for a course.

Study material

Your study material means your textbooks, study guides and other printed or digital information that you need to study for your course.

Private College

A private college is a learning institution that does not receive money from the government to operate. It receives its operating funds from investor capital and student fees.

Public College

A public college receives money from the government to operate.


College SA is a provider of education.


An industry is a job field. For example, construction industry or banking industry.


An instalment is the monthly payment you have to make for your studies.


Interest-free means that College SA doesn’t charge you an extra percentage on your monthly payments.

Broad field of interest

The courses are grouped together in broad fields of interest, meaning that they all apply to a specific industry. For example, you will find Boilermaking and Fitting and Turning under the Technical broad field of interest.


TVET stand for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and is a government-supported initiative to ensure that students are trained in technical and vocational areas. One of the main purposes of a TVET college is to address skills shortages within the South African (and African) markets.


This refers to special skills or training that you need for a specific job. For example, you need special skills and training to be a welder.


NATED = National Accredited Technical Education Diploma. NATED courses are technical courses like Motor Mechanic or Electrician, and they are accredited by Umalusi.


NQF = National Qualifications Framework.

This is the standard that your education levels are measured by, looking at the quality and validity of modules and qualifications.


SAQA stands for the South African Qualifications Authority. SAQA is the government -appointed legal body that makes sure that courses meet set requirements and offer students value for the time and money they spend on the course. It also ensures that each qualification meets industry and academic standards (these are set by individual industries).

Level up

At College SA you can level up on certain courses. What this means is that some of the courses have been divided into levels. You start at the foundation level, and after completing it, you have the opportunity to level up to the intermediary course, the upper intermediary course and finally the advanced course. After each course you receive a qualification.

Scarce skills

Scarce skills are jobs that the SA government feels is important to the growth of the economy, but there aren’t many people qualified or able to do these jobs.  


An institution is an established organisation, like a college or a bank.


A blog is a website on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences.

Payment months

Payment months are the amount of months a college allows you to pay for your studies.

Study months

Study months is the amount of months you have to complete a course.

Application period

An application period refers to the time-frame in which colleges accept application from

Registration period

A registration period is the time-frame in which students need to register for the subjects they want to study


Non-accredited means that a course has not been submitted for formal review by accreditation bodies, and therefore doesn’t carry accreditation. These courses are mostly for professional skills development or to learn a new hobby like digital photography.

Statutory body

An organisation with the authority to check that the activities of a business or organisation are legal and follow official rules.

Activation fee

This is also called the registration fee. This is the money paid by a student to a college to finalise their registration and confirm them as a student.


Employability means how attractive your skills, knowledge, and personality are to a potential employer.


Matric is the last year of high school, also called Grade 12. Having a Matric means that someone has passed the South African National Senior Certificate.

Matric equivalent

A Matric equivalent is a N4 certificate in a certain vocational area, that is usually completed through a college and not a high school.

Bachelor pass

A bachelor pass means that you’ve passed your National Senior Certificate (Matric) with subject combinations and a pass percentage that’s high enough to study a bachelor’s degree at a university.

Diploma pass

A Diploma Pass means that you’ve passed your National Senior Certificate (Matric) with subject combinations and a pass percentage that’s high enough to study a diploma course.

Higher certificate pass

A higher certificate pass means that you’ve passed your National Senior Certificate (Matric) with subject combinations and a pass percentage that’s high enough to study a higher certificate course.

Registration process

The registration process is the administrative tasks that have to be completed before a student can start their studies.


Couriers deliver parcels and letters straight to your door instead of to a post office.

Discussion forum

A discussion forum is an online group where you can discuss topics with fellow members. At College SA we have an online classroom with a discussion forum, where you can chat to other students and your tutors.


A thread is a series of replies, responses and follow up questions under one topic on a discussion forum.


Enrolment happens after the registration process, and is the formal admittance of a student into an academic course.


Desi the Distance Learning Diva

Disclaimer: Martin and Desi are fictional characters created by College SA for educational purposes