What Different Institutions Offer

What Different Institutions Offer.

You probably know that after high school there are many institutions that offer you the chance to further your studies, but you might not really know what all the types of institutions that are out there and what types of qualifications they offer and what those qualifications mean in the work environment.

We’ve listed some main topics in this post detailing some of the more prevalent questions to be asked by prospective learners as well as some other need-to-know information when researching what tertiary institution will suit you best. Hope you find it helpful!

So what are the different types of institutions?

Here’s a short listing of the different Learning Options and a small brief about them:

  • FET Colleges

    There are a vast range of FET colleges that provide many different types of courses such as…. Bookkeeping, Administration, Animation, Dramatic Arts and many more. The courses offered by an FET institution can vary from short courses to diplomas and business programmes. FET colleges keep business in mind and can be a great resource for working students. Requirements to study with FET Colleges can vary, some allow you to study certain courses without the need of a Matriculation Endorsement while other courses they may offer may require an amount of previous accredited study.

  • Learnerships

    A learnership requires you to work for a company to gain practical experience whilst you study to get an accredited qualification. The point of learnerships is to ensure you get the best out of actual working environment experience as well as the best theory for the job at hand. Although the learnerships are a great way of getting practical experience while studying, it does not cement a job placement after your learnership period is over. The requirements for a Learnership would depend on the company that you would be working with and what qualification or course you would be required to study.

  • Technical Colleges

    Technical Colleges are more focused on practical application, as well as bridging schools for those students who did not do well enough in matric to get acceptance into university. These Technical Colleges have various and many courses on offer and the requirements to enter into these courses will vary as the courses demand.

  • Universities

    Traditional Universities are mainly academic in nature, thus most of the degrees that they offer require students applying for a position to have the best marks possible. Traditional Universities have only a select amount of positions for students to enrol, for the university itself and furthermore for each of the available degree choices. Because space is limited and generally the fees can be quite high, many potential students do not meet the requirements to enter into the universities and thus must find alternative institutions to further their studies with. The requirements to enroll with a university, usually requires a matric endorsement as well as what ever specific marks in certain subject are needed for the specific university degree you are wanting to enroll in.

  • Technical Universities/Comprehensive universities

    Technical Universities are more practical and occupation based and offer more specific degrees and diplomas for certain career paths. These Technical Universities were once called Technikons, a few Technikons have now since merged with other education institutions such as Traditional Universities. The requirements for enrollment will depend on which degree you will be applying for.

  • Distance learning Institutions

    Distance Learning Institutions enable people to study from the comfort of their own home. This form of studying is great for people who live in rural outlying areas that cannot commute to a face-to-face learning institution. This method of studying is cheaper and takes less of a financial toll on the student, as well as being very flexible in terms of study times. This enables the student to maintain a full time day job and still see to their studies after hours. Also the length of your course can be adjustable. To enroll for a distance learning course, you would need to meet the individual requirements for the course, for a degree you would require a matric certificate or an equivalent accreditation to prove prior learning.

  • Private Colleges

    There are many private colleges available for people to study at. They range from a college that has a wide variety of course offerings to colleges that offer courses relating to a common theme, such as business courses or art and design courses. Private colleges need to be registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training in South Africa as well as accredited by the Professional Bodies should they wish to offer Professional Body Qualifications. The prices of courses offered by the various institutions will differ depending on their individual pricing models. Even colleges that offer the same courses will have different pricing, even colleges that offer the same courses might have different prices. To enroll in these private colleges you will need to meet the requirements for the individual course that you will be applying for.

Important Questions

  • But what can I expect to pay?

    So you are finishing high school and you want to further your studies in a particular field to get a higher earning potential in the field of your choice. And you’re probably thinking “So… How much is this going to cost me?”

    The answer here will vary depending on what courses and at what institutions you look at. Each institution has it’s own pricing-mechanism and will have their course fees available on their websites and/or at their administration offices.

    These are some price averages that you can use for reference when thinking of where you want to study and what sort of price bracket you can expect to pay.

    (2014 estimates)

    • For a first year of a degree at a university you can expect to pay anywhere from R30 000 – R50 000
    • Business Qualifications (depending on the qualification and length) can cost between R12000 to R24000.
    • Short Courses can range from about R2000 to R11000.

    Please note that when studying with certain institutions there might be other costs involved besides the initial fees. The necessity of the various extra costs will depend on the type of institution and what their pricing mechanism is set to.

    Course Fees

    This is the initial amount of money to be paid to gain access to your study material, lecturers and allow you to study with the institution. This is a large sum of money and can be required to be paid in lumpsum, quarterly or even monthly depending on what payment method the institution you have enrolled with uses.

    Registration Fees

    This is required for you to become an affiliated student of the learning institution. For learning institutions that offer business qualifications you may need to pay registration fees to become part of the Professional Body, such as the ICB (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers) These fees cover the administration undertaken to sign you up as a student and sort out your enrollments for specific courses and timetables.

    Late Registration Fees

    Different institutions will have different enrollment dates for the different accreditation types. For a general degree one would have to sign up at the beginning of the academic year to make sure all admin is done in time for lessons to begin. If you do not make this cut-off date for registration you will be charged over and above the original registration fee to account for the extra administration the college would need to do when registering you.

    Examination Fees

    Most institutions will have some form of examinations / assessments / assignments or quizzes to grade you. These might be handled by an external examination body and may require you to pay fees to write the exam as the amount might not have been included into your Course Fees. Find out from your institution of choice whether you will be required to pay separate examination fees.

    Bear in mind that you will need to pay for re-writes should you need them.

    Learning Material

    Some institutions will require the student to purchase learning material as they do not provide it for you. This would include everything from textbooks to stationery to specialised course specific items. ie architecture, dramatic arts, medicine, multimedia design.

  • NQF Levels

    All qualifications offered within South Africa need to be registered on the NQF (National Qualifications Framework). In simple terms it means that the qualification has been approved and is registered as a qualification. This ensures that all qualifications go through the same process therefore creating continuity across the board therefore ensuring quality of education and training.

  • SAQA – Who? Why? What?

    SAQA is the South African Qualifications Authority, it’s role is to ensure that the qualifications registered on the NQF meets the specific requirements and criteria. It is a place where all registered qualifications are listed for easy reference. If a qualification is not listed on SAQA it means that it is not registered or has yet to be registered on the NQF and with SAQA.

    You can read up more about SAQA here: http://www.saqa.org.za

    The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is a juristic person – that is an entity given a legal personality by the law. The South African Qualifications Authority Board is a body of 12 members appointed by the Minister of Higher Education and Training.

  • Checking Legitimacy of the institution

    Over the years there have been many horror stories of people signing up to flybynight colleges and paying their registration fees and then when semester comes around you find that there is no actual college with which you have registered and paid your fees to.

    There have been other stories of people who have studied through institutions and received their certificates of completion for their respective courses and find that the certificate is invalid as the institution through which they have studied was not registered with any quality checking body.

    Please keep in mind to always distinguish between a legitimate college and a fake one. If you feel wary or uncomfortable, ask to see that their registration documents.

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions – ask the provider you are considering enrolling with about the processes and steps required to enroll with them so that there are no surprises or deviations that you are not prepared for. At SACOB you can Contact a student advisor for step by step help on how to enrol.

    All Further Education and Training Institutions need to be registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training. You can contact The Department of Higher Education and request more information about the particular institution that you are thinking with studying. Don’t accept an organization’s claims of being accredited.

    The institution should also be able to give you their Department of Higher Education and Training Registration number as well as if they are accredited by the relevant SETA(S).

    If an institution offers foreign body accreditations and courses you should do research into those Accredited Bodies to make sure that they are internationally or locally recognised.

    Here’s a simple checklist to go over when thinking about enrolling with a learning institution.


    The Short List: You should be wary of the Institution if:

    • The website has very little information regarding qualifications and or information about the college itself
    • They offer you qualifications that can be achieved in a noticeably shorter time than other institutions
    • The Department of Education does not have them listed as an accredited institution
    • There seems to be no physical address given
    • You don’t see a listing of current staff members
    • There is slang or inappropriate language found on the website, as Accredited institutions that are reputable will adhere to proper and formal language use
  • How Long Should I Study For?
    • Short courses can range from anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months
    • Business Qualifications can take anywhere from 3 months to a year.
    • Diplomas range from 2 years to 3 years.
    • Degrees can be 3 to four years worth of study.
    • A masters and a Doctorate would be extra years of study after your initial degree.

    Before enrolling for a course, you should take the time to decide how long you want to study for, just because you think you need a particular qualification does not mean that you will find studying for an extended length of time suitable for you.

  • Is the qualification worth it?

    All knowledge that is gained is essentially priceless in what you can achieve with it, however… is it worthwhile studying for a degree for 3 years, full time, and then at the end of it all you struggle to find a job that doesn’t require 2 years work experience?

    There is no definitive answer, as the market requirements change frequently, as well as what skills are deficient within a country at any given time. Take a look at another blog post where we discuss our take on the National Scarce Skills list: http://www.sacob.com/blog/comments-on-national-scarce-skills-list-top-100-occupations-in-demand

    For example, if there are too many mechanics in South Africa and too few mechanics in New Zealand, then It makes sense that the mechanic looking for employment in NZ is more likely to find a job than a mechanic in SA.

    So the market may change during your studies, and the job you were hoping to get at the end of it all isn’t available anymore, and then you’ve found yourself at the end of your 3 year degree with a massive student loan and no way to pay it back. It is always good to be on top of the market trends so that your skills are always current and relevant to your field of expertise.

    Studying full time generally takes up most of your daylight and then with all of the extracurricular work that you have to do, and the number one gripe of students worldwide is not having an income, or even the fact you have to work a part time job in between going to rigorous lectures.

    The good thing is if that lifestyle isn’t for you there are other institutions besides universities such as SACOB that offer you the chance to study business qualifications, part time. Meaning that you can work a day job and then study on your down time, so you can gain work experience and earn while you study.

In Conclusion

It is wise for you to thoroughly check any institution that you wish to study with before any money changes hands. Find out if the Course that you are thinking of doing is accredited with the correct and valid quality checking boards. Make sure that what you are studying will still be relevant in the job market once you’ve completed your studies, no use in studying a 2 year hairdressing diploma if everyone’s hair falls out next week. Make sure the type of Institution will work for you best. And lastly, make sure you actually want to study. Just signing up for a course does not guarantee you success, you will need to want to succeed, and work hard for your qualification in order to achieve it.

Written by

Nicholas Raine



The views expressed in the blog post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the South African College of Business.