Ultimate Guide to NQF Levels
A proper understanding of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in South Africa will help you make informed choices about your future.
Here is an ultimate guide to NQF Levels.
Table of Contents
What are the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)?
The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is a tool used to measure the skills and knowledge of learners in South Africa.
The NQF consist of 10 levels divided into three bands:
- Levels 1 to 4 equate to high school grades 9 to 12 or vocational training,
- Levels 5 to 7 are college diplomas and technical qualifications, and
- Levels 7 to 10 are university degrees.
Level 1 is the most basic, and Level 10 is the most advanced. In order to progress to the next level, learners must first demonstrate that they have mastered the skills and knowledge required at their current level.
NQF Levels Explained
NQF stands for the National Qualifications Framework, which is the South African framework used to arrange levels of learning achievements.
The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has been using this framework since the NFQ Act of 2008.
The NQF focuses on a list of ‘applied competencies,’ so each NQF level signifies a specific standard of intellectual and academic skills, including problem-solving abilities and learner autonomy.
How it works is that there are 10 NQF levels of learning achievement, and every registered South African qualification needs to specify its NQF level – basically, what it will teach the student and enable him or her to do in terms of acquired skills.
Level 1 is a General Education Certificate (GEC). This means that the student has completed Grade 9 and is in the position to complete high school through TVET colleges if they wish.
Level 2 is an Elementary Certificate. This is a result of completing Grade 10.
Level 3 is an Intermediate Certificate that is rewarded to students after Grade 11.
NQF level 4 is the National Senior Certificate (NSC), this is the result of a complete Matric/Grade 12. This is the same as a Senior Certificate that is awarded after successfully completing the Matric exam.
Level 5 is a Higher Certificate. Students receive a Higher Certificate once they have completed a Higher Certificate programme at a higher education institution.
Level 6 is a National Diploma or an Advance Certificate. This diploma is awarded to students who have completed a Nation Diploma programme.
NQF level 7 is a Bachelors Degree or Advanced Diploma. To receive this you would have to have completed a degree programme at a university or other higher learning institution.
Level 8 is an Honours Degree, received after completing an honours programme at a higher education institution.
Level 9 is a Masters Degree. This is awarded to students after they successfully complete a Masters programme in their chosen faculty
The final NQF level is level 10, this is a Doctorates Degree. Once you complete you doctorate programme, do you receive your doctorates degree and have reached the highest NQF level.
What are the requirements to get an NQF?
To be able to study towards a certain NQF qualification, you need to meet certain requirements.
For example, to study towards a Bachelor’s degree, you need to have finished school or an NQF 4 qualification (like having a National or FET Certificate equivalent to Grade 12).
If you want to know the specific requirements for a qualification at a South African institution, visit SAQA’s search database.
Credits are the marks you earn once you complete your school subjects or college course. Every subject you do counts for a certain amount of credits. Your credits then determine if you can enrol in a certain program or move to the next level of a course.
What are Credits and how are They Earned?
This system is used to determine the number of hours required for achieving a learning outcome. One credit is equivalent to ten notional hours. Furthermore, notional hours include assignments, study time, and exams.
Certain qualifications require a set number of credits. For instance, a Higher certificate has 120 credits, while a bachelor’s degree has 360 credits.
Each subject one does will contribute to their credit score. In addition, credits can also determine if you can enrol in certain programs.
What is the Purpose of SAQA NQF Levels and Credits?
The purpose of this system is to measure the qualification level of individuals. Furthermore, it represents the academic achievements obtained by students. This strategy was put into place to bring education and training together.
In addition, the NQF is a set of principles and guidelines used to record learners’ achievements. This system is nationally recognized. Furthermore, SAQA NQF levels and credits help determine one’s skills and knowledge.
How to Get a Higher NQF Level
You will need to meet certain requirements in order to get a higher NQF level. For example, someone with an NQF level 4 cannot get an NQF level 7. They will first need to get an NQF level 5 and level 6 before getting a level 7.
Can You Go to University With an NQF Level 4?
The NQF level 4 is attained by students who have passed matric. Students can go to university with an NQF level 4. However, it’s important to note that there are other factors that should be considered.
Universities always look at your matric pass level. Therefore, you will need to pass with a bachelor’s degree matric pass level.
Furthermore, you will need a minimum APS score of at least 23 to 30 points.
We always suggest checking out the requirements for each course beforehand. This will give you a better insight into what the pre-requisites are.
How Long Does It Take to Reach the Highest NQF Level?
It’s important to understand that all good things take time. With that said, getting a doctorate can take a solid few years. One might experience some setbacks but it’s always important to push through.
Even though the NQF levels are representative of certain intellectual and academic competencies, don’t forget that these levels by no means define you as a person, or what you’re capable of. You are not a number in a framework – you’re an incredible human being, and though academic qualifications can be very important for your future, they don’t always determine what you make of your one precious life.
How to improve your matric marks
Have you finished matric but your results aren’t good enough to apply for the course you want to pursue? Find out how you can improve your matric subjects and get the marks you need to pursue further education.
We hope our Ultimate Guide to NQF levels will guide you in making the best decisions!