Different NQF Levels Explained - National Qualifications Framework and each NQF Level Explained

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The various NQF levels represent different types of academic achievements that can be obtained by a student. If you are wondering what the different levels mean, we have the answers you're looking for.

NQF Meaning of the Different NQF Levels

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is a strategy in response to the changing educational environment. This system brings education and training together. It also tracks your academic achievements and ensures that they are recognised. It was part of a national effort to encourage 'Life Long Learning'.

Many countries have developed a national qualifications framework but the one developed by South Africa is specific to the country. The NQF system was developed to create a benchmark that both training and formal education can be benchmarked or ranked against.

So whether you study a programme which is more theory based and practical - or you study at a college where the work is more theoretical - either course can be ranked or compared on a standard NQF framework. This should help with personal development as learning achievements can be ranked and individuals shouldn't have to start again from the bottom when moving from technical qualifications to academic skills and education.

The NQF levels range from level 1-10, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. The different levels represent the different levels of education and the different qualifications achieved by the person.

NQF Levels - Categories

There are 3 broad categories that the NQF levels fall into.

The first level is from 1 to 4 and is equivalent to high school grades  9-12 which fall under the Basic Education Department.

The next level is from 5 to 7 and is equivalent to technical qualifications and college diplomas that you might attain at a TVET College.

The third level is from 7 to 10 and is equivalent to the degrees and post-graduate degrees that you would get at a university and fall under the Higher Education and Training Department.

NQF Level 1

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 though TVET colleges if they wish. 

NQF Level 2

Level 2 is an Elementary Certificate. This is a result of completing Grade 10.

NQF Level 3

Level 3 is an Intermediate Certificate that is rewarded to students after Grade 11. 

NQF Level 4

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.

NQF Level 5

Level 5 is a Higher Certificate. Students receive a Higher Certificate once they have completed a Higher Certificate programme at a higher education institution.

NQF Level 6

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

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.

NQF Level 8

Level 8 is an Honours Degree, received after completing an honours programme at a higher education institution.

NQF Level 9

Level 9 is a Masters Degree. This is awarded to students after they successfully complete a Masters programme in their chosen faculty.

NQF Level 10

The final NQF level is level 10, this is a Doctorates Degree. Once you complete your doctorate programme, you receive your doctorates degree and have reached the highest NQF level.

The National Qualifications Framework is the responsibility of SAQA, the South African Qualifications Authority, which has the task of managing the quaifications of the South African public. The maintain a database called the SA Learner Records Database which is a record of all South Africans and any NQF qualification that they hold.

When foreigners come to South Africa to work it is also the responsibility of SAQA to compare the foreign qualifications they have to our local qualifications and declare some form of equivalence. Also if South Africans study a foreign qualification they will also declare some form of equivalence for that to our local South African qualifications.

To read SAQA's official NQF Level Framework, click here.



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