NQF Levels – What do They Mean?

The NQF Levels are in place to help you have an equal chance at an education. Learn about the great benefits this has on you and what do they mean.

NQF Levels play an important role in the South African academic system. Find out what they mean and how you can achieve each level. There are even alternative programmes available that you can do. 

National Qualifications Framework 

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. 

Qualification Councils 

In order for your qualifications to be valid they have to be accredited. This is where qualification councils come in place. There are three main councils in South Africa. While looking for a course to study, you may come across these councils.

Objectives of the NQF 

The objectives of the NQF are simple and straightforward. It makes learning equal for everyone, including you. Each NQF level has its own set of requirements. This then motivates students to work toward the requirements and move to the next level. 

The Purpose of NQF Levels 

The purpose of the NQF levels is to help progression within education and training. It also enhances education and the skills you gain. The NQF levels also  ensure that past discriminations in education, training and career opportunities are eliminated.

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NQF Level – What do They Mean

There are NQF levels all throughout your high school and tertiary education. From grade 9 up to grade 12, you have your lower level qualifications. This consists of level 1 to 4. Once you decide to further your education you will start your journey to the higher NQF levels.

NQF Level 


How to Achieve NQF Level 

Level 1 

Grade 9 

Successfully complete grade 9 

Level 2 

Grade 10 

Complete grade 10 

Level 3 

Grade 11 

Complete grade 11 

Level 4

Grade 12( matric) 

Successfully pass your matric final exam 

Level 5

Higher Certificate 

Enrol in a higher certificate program

Level 6 

National Diploma and Advanced Certificate 

Complete a national diploma qualification or an advanced certificate

Level 7 

Bachelor’s Degree and Advanced Diploma 

Enrol and complete a bachelor’s degree programme

Level 8 

Honours Degree and Postgraduate Diploma 

Enrol in an honours programme 

Level 9 

Master’s Degree

Successfully complete a master’s Degree 

Level 10 

Doctorates Degree

Successfully complete a doctorates degree qualification 

How the SAQA Relate to the NQF 

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is a professional body. These professionals are selected by the Ministers of Higher Education and Training. Members of the SAQA advise ministers of higher education on the NQF act. It also ensures that the objectives of the NQF are achieved. 

What is the Equivalent of a NQF Level 4? 

A NQF level 4 is a matric certificate qualification. You could earn your matric certificate by completing your matric final exams. If you can’t complete your matric, there are national and FET certificates equivalent to it.

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What is the Equivalent of a NQF Level 4? 

A NQF level 4 is a matric certificate qualification. You could earn your matric certificate by completing your matric final exams. If you can’t complete your matric, there are national and FET certificates equivalent to it. 

Is an NQF Level Qualification Worth it? 

Having a NQF qualification does give you more opportunities. So yes, it is worth it. There will be a lot of studying and effort needed from you. Luckily we have student support. With us your learning is our priority. That’s why we have online tutors and study groups available to you.  

What are Credits and how are They Earned?

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. 

National Diploma NQF Level 

The National Diploma is a NQF Level 6 certificate. It takes around three years to complete a national diploma course. There are a variety of courses and programs that you can do to achieve a NQF level 6 certificate. 

Accredited Courses 

We have a range of accredited courses you can do.  Each course will enable you with the skills you need to start your career. All courses are done via distance learning. This means that you don’t attend any physical classes and instead study from the comfort of your home.  Ready to get started? Have a look at our accredited courses

Alternative Courses 

 If you don’t qualify for an accredited course there are alternative courses you can do. You can dive into short courses or even matric upgrade courses. Both aim to give you the skills needed to become a professional in your chosen career. So fear not, there are several options available to you. 

Skill Focused Courses 

If you aren’t ready for an accredited course you have other options. These are open entry courses you can do. These are also known as short courses. These courses will give you the skills needed to be a professional in your career. .

Climb the Ladder With Each Level

Ready to explore your options? Contact one of our course experts and find out everything you need to know. One call is all it takes to start your future. 

  • Contact us today on 0800 39 00 27 –  it’s free! 
  • Fill out our contact form for a call back. 
Last Updated: November 2, 2020


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Tia Sauls
Tia Sauls
“Writing much like music requires, passion, focus and rhythm” - Tia Sauls View my LinkedIn profile

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