When leaving school and transitioning into adult life, there are various paths that are available to you to choose from. These can include further study, employment, volunteer work, training or a combination of these. We look at the various options for post-school education and training in South Africa, including information on Further Education and Training (TVET) colleges, Universities of Technology and Universities.


Just as studying and learning gets more complicated as you move through the school system, studying at a University, University of Technology or TVET college is a step up the ladder from the learning you completed at school.

If you decide to study at a University, or University of Technology, you will mainly be learning in an academic environment. These higher education institutions also offer options for advancing your studies and further specialisation through Post-graduate Diplomas, Honours, Masters or Doctoral Degrees.

Another option is a TVET college where you can register for a Vocational Programme. Public TVET colleges are a good option if you want to pursue a specific vocation or occupation such as farming, IT or hospitality.

Higher Education

Higher education is learning that takes place once you have completed an NG+QF level 4 qualification such as the National Senior Certificate (NSC) or National Certificate: Vocational (NCV). It takes place mainly at Universities and Universities of Technology. Once you successfully complete the minimum requirements for the course you will graduate with one of the following: a Certificate, Diploma or Undergraduate Degree.

Types of higher education institutions:

Universities: these are ‘traditional’ academic Universities that mainly offer qualifications such as Higher Certificates, Advanced Diplomas and Degrees in ‘disciplines’ of knowledge.

Universities of Technology: these institutions offer qualifications such as Higher Certificates, Advanced Certificates, Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas and Degrees oriented to particular areas of work.

Higher Education Institutions and the Council on Higher Education (CHE)

All higher education institutions are governed and monitored by the Council on Higher Education (CHE). The following outlines the role of the CHE in more detail:

  • The CHE is responsible for the higher education qualifications sub-framework of the NQF; that is levels 5 to 10.
  • The CHE is responsible for promoting quality qualifications within Higher Education through: accreditation, institutional audits, programme evaluation, quality promotion and capacity building.
  • The CHE is in charge of monitoring and evaluating the vision, policy goals and objectives for higher education. The Council is also tasked with reporting on the state of the higher education system in South Africa.
  • Finally, the CHE contributes to the development of Higher Education by identifying challenges, conducting research and producing publications that respond to these issues and provide guidance for those in the education industry and government on key national issues.


012 349 3840

P O Box 94, Persequor Technopark, Brummeria, 0020

1 Quintin Brand Street, Persequor Technopark, Brummeria, 0020

Higher Education Qualifications

Higher education qualifications range from certificates and diplomas to bachelors and master’s degrees right up to doctorates.

A Higher Certificate: (NQF level 5) is an entry-level higher education qualification that is primarily vocational or industry oriented. It provides the learner with basic introductory knowledge, cognitive and conceptual tools and practical techniques in a chosen field. The successful learner will be able to apply basic knowledge and competency gained through the qualification in an occupation, in a workplace role or in further learning. The qualification often includes simulated work experience or work integrated learning. It consists of a minimum of 120 credits and takes a year of full-time study.

An Advanced Certificate: (NQF level 6) is primarily vocational or industry-oriented and provides learners with a sound knowledge base in a particular field or discipline and the ability to apply that knowledge and those skills in a particular career or professional contexts. Its specific strong vocational, professional or career focus prepares learners for a particular niche in the labour market as well as for more specialised learning. The qualification usually includes a simulated work experience or work integrated learning. It consists of a minimum of 120 credits and takes a year of full-time study.

A Diploma: (NQF level 6) is primarily vocational or industry-oriented and contains general principles and their application. It consists of focused knowledge and skills in a particular field and gives learners experience in applying such knowledge and skills in the workplace. Successful learners will be equipped to enter a number of career paths and apply their learning in particular employment contexts at the outset. The qualification usually includes a simulated work experience or work integrated learning. It consists of a minimum of 360 credits and takes three years of full-time study.

An Advanced Diploma: (NQF level 7) can have one of a number of purposes such as providing intellectual enrichment, offering intensive, focussed and applied specialised knowledge for a specific niche in the labour market, or offering specific knowledge that enables the learner to adapt to changing circumstances in a sector or to make a career change. It may also provide entry-level vocational or professional preparation or specialisation for holders of bachelor’s degrees to enter a career or profession, e.g. for teachers who have obtained an academic bachelor’s degree to enter teaching. The qualification is particularly suitable for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). It consists of a minimum of 120 credits and takes a year of full-time study.

The Post Graduate Diploma: (NQF level 8) is generally multi or inter-disciplinary in nature, but may also offer learners the opportunity to strengthen and deepen their knowledge in a particular discipline or profession. It is focussed at allowing working professionals to undertake advanced reflection on current thinking, practice and research methods in a specialist area. It requires a high level of theoretical engagement and independent learning. It may include a research project done under supervision. The minimum admission requirement to the Post Graduate Diploma is a Bachelor’s Degree. It consists of 120 credits which means one year of full-time study. Holders of a Post Graduate Diploma may be granted admission to a Masters Degree provided their studies included a supervised research project.

A Bachelor’s Degree: (NQF level 7) is generally the standard qualification and usually takes three or four years of full-time study to complete. After you first degree you can progress to a post-graduate degree.

An Honours Degree: (NQF level 8) is post-graduate qualification and is usually a specialisation in a specific subject. An honours degree typically takes one year of full-time study to complete.

Masters Degree: (NQF level 9) comprises a minimum of one year full-time study and can combine coursework with a research project.

A Doctorate Degree: (NQF level 10) involves extensive and sustained original research in a subject of your choice. The results of the research are presented in s long essay (also called a thesis or dissertation) that contributes to the intellectual body of knowledge in a specific field.


List of South African Universities


Name & Address Telephone & Fax Web Address
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University T: 041 504 1111

F: 041 504 2574
Rhodes University T: 046 603 8148

F: 046 622 8444
University of Fort Hare T: 040 602 2016

F: 040 653 1338
Walter Sisulu University of Technology T: 047 502 2200

F: 047 502 2970


Name & Address Telephone & Fax Web Address
Central University of Technology T: 051 507 3911

F: 051 507 3310
University of the Free State T: 051 401 2114

F: 051 401 3669


Name & Address Telephone & Fax Web Address
University of Pretoria T: 012 420 4111

F: 012 420 4530
University of South Africa T: 012 429 3111

F: 012 429 2565
Tshwane University of Technology T: 012 382 5911

F: 012 382 5422
University of the Witswatersrand T: 011 717 1102

F: 011 339 8215
Vaal University of Technology T: 016 950 92 14/5

F: 016 950 9800
University of Johannesburg T: 011 489 3000

F: 011 489 2260


Name & Address Telephone & Fax Web Address
Durban University of Technology T: 031 373 2411

F: 031 373 2011
University of KwaZulu Natal T: 031 260 2227

F: 031 262 2192
Mangosuthu University of Technology T: 031 907 7111

F: 031 906 5470
University of Zululand T: 035 902 6624

F: 035 902 6601


Name & Address Telephone & Fax Web Address
University of Limpopo T: 015 268 2140

F: 015 267 0142
University of Venda T: 015 962 8000

F: 015 962 4742


Name & Address Telephone & Fax Web Address
North West University T: 018 299 2601

F: 018 299 2603


Name & Address Telephone & Fax Web Address
University of Stellenbosch T: 021 808 4654 / 2721

F: 031 808 3714
University of Cape Town T: 021 650 2105/6

F: 021 650 5100
University of the Western Cape T: 021 959 2911

F: 021 959 2973


Definition: The National Certificate Vocational (NCV) is a qualification awarded by TVET colleges that allows you to follow a learning pathway and qualify for a specific career in a focus area or sector of your choice.

The NCV was introduced in 2007 and there is a wide range of NCV courses to choose from. These programmes aim to respond directly to the priority skills that will help the South African economy grow. These qualifications include a theoretical and practical component in a particular vocational field. The practical experience may be offered in the workplace or in a simulated workplace environment. This has the advantage of giving you the opportunity to gain experience in the workplace during your studies.

Public TVET colleges also offer Nated or ‘N’ course which, when combined with practical work and passing a trade test, lead to a qualification as an artisan in a wide variety of desperately needed skills. Artisan qualifications include plumbing, welding, carpentry, boiler-making and many others.

Top Tip: Contact the institution that offers the qualification you want to pursue regarding the admission requirements to ensure that you are eligible.


TVET colleges are overseen by Umalusi – the Quality Council for General and Further Education and Training. Umalusi is tasked with overseeing the general and further education and training qualifications sub-framework of the NQF; that is levels 1 to 4.

It sets and monitors standards for this sector with the purpose of continually enhancing the quality of education and training in schools, TVET colleges and adult learning centres.

The key functions of Umalusi include:

  • developing new qualifications or part-qualifications in the general and further education and training sector and evaluating existing qualifications and curricula;
  • moderating assessments to ensure that they are fair, valid and reliable;
  • conducting research to ensure education quality
  • accrediting education assessment providers; and
  • certifying learner’s educational achievements


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Fax: 012 349 1511

37 General Van Ryneveld Street, Persequor Technopark, Pretoria

Programmes offered by TVET colleges:

  • Civil Engineering and Building Construction
  • Drawing Office Practice
  • Education and Development
  • Electrical Infrastructure Construction
  • Engineering and Related Design
  • Finance, Economics and Accounting
  • Hospitality
  • Information Technology and Computer Science
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Mechatronics
  • Office Administration
  • Primary Agriculture
  • Process Instrumentation
  • Process Plant Operations
  • Safety in Society
  • Tourism


In order to graduate, you are required to study seven subjects at each level of the (TVET Colleges) National Certificate Vocational NCV; this includes three compulsory fundamental subjects and four vocational subjects chosen from any vocational programme.

Note: For certain course there are three compulsory fundamental subjects and the fourth is a subject of your choice, while other courses all vocational subjects re compulsory.