Types Of Higher Education Institutions

What is the Difference Between College, Technikon and University?

The three main types of higher education institutions in South Africa include college, technikon and university. Understanding the difference between these learning institutions can make choosing where to study much easier.

The main difference between these institutions is the level of education they offer. Continue reading to learn more about the difference between college, technikon and university. 

What is a TVET College?

TVET colleges were formerly known as FET colleges (Further Education and Training). TVET stands for Technical and Vocational Education and Training. These colleges offer vocational and occupational courses. These courses aim to equip students with academic knowledge and practical experience so they will be prepared for the workplace. Courses offered at TVET colleges range from only a few months to three years, and the entrance requirements are not that strict, meaning you can study without a Matric certificate. A college education is also the most affordable option.   

Private TVET Colleges

There are two types of TVET colleges, private and public. Private colleges are independent learning institutions that set their own policies and goals. They do not receive funding from the government; they are privately funded. College SA is a private TVET-level college that offers distance learning education. We offer a variety of occupational and vocational courses.

Public TVET Colleges

Public TVET colleges are government-funded learning institutions. They get approximately R8 billion per year from the state. The Department of Higher Education and Training also offers bursaries to public college students. Their courses do not differ that much from private colleges, in fact, some offer the same qualification.

What are the main differences between a private and public college?

Private Colleges

Public Colleges

Private colleges are privately owned and do not get state funding.

Public colleges get funding and support from the government.

Private colleges rarely offer student funding.

(College SA DOES NOT provide bursaries)

Public colleges provide students with state-funded bursaries.

Private colleges remain unaffected by  teacher/student strikes.

Public colleges are affected when  teachers/students strike and education conflicts arise.

Many private colleges offer the same qualifications as public colleges.

Many public colleges offer the same qualifications as private colleges.


What is a Technikon (University of Technology)?

Universities of Technology offer career-oriented certificate and diploma qualifications. Some also offer degrees. Students start with theoretical work, followed by practical training. The entrance requirements may vary depending on the course, but a Matric certificate is required for all programmes. The cost of technikon qualifications can be quite expensive. However, students can apply for student loans to pay for their studies.   

What is a University?

Universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate education. Their courses mainly focus on academic, rather than vocational training. So you will not get the hands-on experience as you would at a University of Technology. Entry requirements for university courses vary greatly and can be quite specific. You need a Matric certificate with excellent marks (A’s) to even be considered. Your school subject choices should also correspond with the qualification you want to study. The cost of a university qualification is exceptionally high, and often students have to apply for a bursary to fund their studies.