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FAQ about quality assurance and accredited qualifications

BY: Dr Riaan Steenberg|3 March 2019
BLOG| Deciding to study online

In a previous post we explained the basics of SA’s education quality assurance bodies to help parents and students choose what online courses to study. We removed the confusion behind all the acronyms NLRD, SAQA, DHET, NQF, QCTO, SETA, CHE and mapped out an infographic of how it all fits together. We highly recommend you read that post before you read the below. Click here.

However, there may still be some burning questions that you have (and keep them coming!) and we will answer them all here.

What does it mean if a course is unaccredited?

Some educational providers choose not to pursue accreditation through these bodies because it’s an admin-intensive process. The downside is that this means any skills students accrue through these organisations will be valid only so long as the provider is in existence. By getting a qualification recognised on the National Learner Record Database (NLRD), there’s security that the qualification will always be valid, as assured by the South African Qualifications Authority.


Non-accredited providers are also not allowed to offer degrees or other similar programmes.

What does accreditation mean for employment prospects?

A valid and recognised National Qualifications Framework (NQF) qualification is usually a pre-requisite for advancement in South Africa currently. Employers typically look for people with recognised qualifications that can be verified to be valid (read our General Guide to General Management).


Sometimes, this means they can discount the validity of courses from non-accredited providers. From a promotion perspective, often having lots of certificates but no degree makes it difficult to ‘climb the ladder’.

Are SAQA-registered courses recognised overseas?

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) ensures that all programmes that are registered have a level of international comparability and the quality councils (Council for Higher Education (CHEand Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO)) assure the public that the programmes being offered are comparable to equivalent qualifications globally. 

How does SGI work with the quality assurance bodies?

SGI has registered with the QCTO and its National Certificate in General Management is quality assured through the SERVICES SETA. The professional body Project Management South Africa (PMSA) has given their quality stamp on the SGI Programme in Advanced Project Management.


SGI has applied for registration with CHE. This means the public can be assured of the quality of SGI programmes. It also means that when the registrations are complete, SGI will be a degree-granting institution. At that point, a degree or programme from SGI will be equivalent to any other programme at a similar level, anywhere in the world.


All SGI students are registered with the NLRD so that their qualifications can be evaluated to be valid by employers. 

What three questions should parents and students ask before choosing what and where to study?

1. What’s the ROI?

Parents and students need to ensure that their programmes are leading to a certification that they will be happy with and that ensures longevity of their investment.

2. How does it position you for your chosen career?

Research shows that your first degree is a strong signal of your likely future career. Therefore, you need to choose a programme that positions you well professionally.

3. Is the course accredited?

It is important to know that the programme is accredited in order to justify your investment in it.


From a first qualification to continuous learning opportunities, it’s wise to examine the expected return-on-study-investment before picking a course to pursue. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s important to understand exactly what you’re investing in.


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