Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services


  • What must I do to have my foreign (non-South African) qualifications evaluated? What is the cost involved? How long does it take?

Application guidelines (PDF) include the following information:

  • What we need to do an evaluation (contact information, documentation and payment)
  • When evaluation results can be expected
  • Other important notes on the evaluation procedure
  • What are the criteria applied for evaluation of foreign qualification?

The evaluation of foreign qualifications follows international practice as agreed in conventions in various regions of the world. The criteria are outlined in the SAQA document Criteria and Guidelines for the Evaluation of Foreign Qualifications.

Evaluations aim to determine the “local currency” of foreign qualifications. The evaluation procedure is based mainly on the structural analysis of foreign education systems and compares foreign qualifications to South African qualifications in terms of features such as –

  • status of the awarding institution in the country of origin
  • purpose of study
  • admission requirements
  • duration and mode of study
  • credit weighting and grades
  • course composition and requirements
  • learning outcomes as indicated by the professional and/or academic status of the qualification holder
  • qualification framework levels in the country of origin (if applicable)

SAQA evaluations offer general placement recommendations referring to the levels of the National Qualifications Framework , which should preferably be supplemented by purpose-specific assessments by the institution(s) concerned.

  • What is the legal status of these evaluations?

SAQA derives it’s mandate to render an evaluation and advisory service for foreign qualifications from the National Qualifications Framework Act, 67 of 2009. The service is revised on an ongoing basis to continuously improve alignment with NQF principles and best international practice.
As suggested by the legal mandate, the recommendations made on certificates of evaluation are advisory and therefore not prescriptive or binding on other institutions.

  • What is SAQA’s actual role regarding admission to study, professional registration and employment?

The Directorate Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services’ role is to advise on the minimum levels that foreign qualifications could be recognised at. This advice is not based on an in-depth comparison of content (curricula, projects, research reports) in specific areas of specialisation, or the establishment of learning outcomes in the sense of actual knowledge and competency. It is therefore necessary that education and training providers, professional bodies and employers take responsibility for further assessment according to their internal criteria relevant for the specific context. This may warrant an adaptation of the recommended placement by SAQA and require support in terms of upgrading that may be necessary, as well as the monitoring of progress of students and workers. Feedback to SAQA about the appropriateness of the initial evaluation is seen as crucial information and is therefore invited.

  • I need my South African qualifications evaluated for study / work purposes abroad. What must I do?

Recognition of South African qualifications in foreign countries is the prerogative of evaluating agencies in the host countries. Evaluations for the abovementioned purposes will therefore convey information on South African qualifications within the local context to assist foreign evaluating bodies, but will not suggest any comparison to the qualifications or levels in the host country.

The contact details of overseas evaluating agencies can also be provided by the Directorate: Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services at SAQA.

  • I want to have South African qualifications (national or private) evaluated and the “M+” rating determined. How can SAQA help me?

The core function of SAQA is to oversee the development and implementation of a National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which will, inter alia, facilitate the registration of all South African qualification onto eight levels of education and training. This process accounts for learning outcomes and is not compatible with a time-based system such as the “M+” system.

Registration of New Standards and Qualifications

  • What is the difference between a qualification and a learning programme, and can a programme be registered on the National Qualifications Framework?

The essential difference between a qualification and a learning programme is that a qualification is a learning outcome, and a learning programme the process one embarks upon in fulfilment of that outcome.

A qualification means the formal recognition of the achievement of learning. A learning programme on the other hand is the process which one embarks upon in order to fulfil that achievement.

A qualification is characterized by learning outcomes – critical cross-field and specific outcomes – which provide the learner with opportunities for further (lifelong) learning. Subject to SAQA approval, a qualification can be registered on the National Qualifications Framework. Once thus registered, the qualification becomes “public domain property”. A learning programme is a provider-specific course or programme offered to learners against a particular qualification, and is subject to quality assurance by an accredited ETQA. Learning programmes, then, cannot be registered on the National Qualifications Framework.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

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