Types of Qualifications & Accreditation Bodies


Types of Qualifications & Accreditation Bodies


Professional qualifications, accreditation, accrediting bodies – all these terms are enough to send anyone down a spiral of confusion.

It took me a while (longer than I would like to admit), to understand exactly what is meant by these terms. I once heard a story about a girl who studied at a college, finished her course and thought she would get a qualification, only to be told that the course was not accredited.

I was horrified! She spent a lot of money and time on the course, and in the end, it was not what she thought it would be. It is for this very reason that I’m glad Martin asked me about accreditation and professional qualifications.

There are three main reasons why people enrol for a college course:

  • to get a qualification to work in a particular field (like accounting)
  • to build professional skills in a field they are already working in
  • to gain knowledge about a subject for personal development or a hobby (like photography)

Before you enrol for a course, you need to think about your reason for studying. If you’re in Matric, chances are you are looking for a course that will give you a formal qualification so that you can pursue a career. It is therefore important that you make sure that:

  • the college you want to enrol at is recognised by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)
  • the course you are interested in is accredited (accreditation is giving by a professional body, and the qualification must also be registered on the National Qualifications Framework - NQF)

Who is the DHET?

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) is the governmental body that regulates education and training institutions, like private colleges. They ensure that educational institutions comply with quality standards.

Who is the NQF?

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) was established to measure and verify the skills of students and the workforce. In the past, skills gained from working were not officially recognised. Many people weren’t able to study formally and therefore remained seen as ‘unskilled’. This kept them from finding better jobs and the opportunity to better their lives.

The NQF’s objective is to rectify this and offer the workforce the means of gaining officially recognised skills. To encourage upskilling of the workforce, many programmes, like vocational and technical training, have been implemented to combine work experience with formal learning. These programmes are also offered at a reduced cost.

How the NQF works

There are different skills levels on the NQF. Accredited courses have to align with these skills levels, and it makes it easier for employers to understand what you know and which skills you have acquired.  

The NQF is divided into sub-frameworks:

  • TVET – Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Former FET colleges that offer technical (mechanic, electrical, boilermaking etc.) and vocational (work related) training.
  • HET – Higher Education and Training. Universities and Universities of Technology. Traditional universities and the old technikons.
  • OQSF – Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework. Oversees the occupational qualifications (e.g. Human Resource Management), and ensures that these qualifications meet industry standards.

Who is SAQA?

The South African Qualifications Authority is the statutory body that oversees the NQF. It ensures that all professional education authorities comply with particular legislation (laws) and that the qualifications they offer are registered on the NQF.

How to check accreditation for a college

Private colleges have to register with the DHET and are issued a registration number. Most private colleges display their registration number on their website. You can also contact the DHET to verify a registration number. Find their helpline number on www.dhet.gov.za

How to Check Accreditation for a Qualification

You can check the qualifications with SAQA by phoning their helpline or visiting their website at www.saqa.org.za

National Learners Database

SAQA has a record of students’ qualifications and subjects completed. If you would like a statement of your qualifications or subjects, you can send an email to SAQA at verifications@saqa.org.za.

Note: SAQA is updating their database and may not yet display current subjects and qualifications.

College SA has a Range of Accredited Qualifications

College SA, where I study, offers the following:

Human Resource Management

The SABPP accredits this course. The South African Board for People Practices (SABPP) is an accredited Learning and Quality Assurance body by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations. Once you have completed this course, you will receive a National Diploma.

Accounting and Bookkeeping

College SA offers two ICB Accounting programmes. The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) is accredited by FASSET to provide these national qualifications. 

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is the leading professional body for Management Accountants worldwide. 


The technical courses offered by College SA are registered on the NQF. This means that after successful completion, you will receive a National Certificate. College SA is accredited by Umalusi to offer Technical National Certificates N1 to N3.   

Business Management and Office Administration

FASSET also accredits these ICB courses. You will receive a national qualification upon successful completion.

Occupational Health and Safety

College SA is a corporate member of Saiosh. This means that once you complete one of our accredited OHS courses, you can apply for a professional designation (TechSaiosh) with Saiosh. SAQA recognises Saiosh as a professional body for Occupational Health and Safety in South Africa. 


When you complete one of these computer courses, you will receive an International Certificate. These study programmes are industry-endorsed, which means employers and businesses highly value them. Microsoft is an international company, and one of the biggest names in information technology and CompTIA is the (international) IT Industry Trade Association. 

Benefits of Studying an Accredited Course

  • You will gain national recognition, and some courses even have international recognition.
  • A professional qualification can potentially place you in a higher earning bracket.
  • You can look forward to more job opportunities.
  • You can often level-up with a professional course and build on your qualification.


Remember: Don’t be afraid to do your research before you commit to a college or a course. Ask lots of questions as if your future depended on it!


Until next time!

Desi Signaturethe Distance Learning Diva


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