SAQA Rules and Professional Bodies – What you should know

If a professional body or a professional association wishes to be involved in the education and training environment and wishes to co-operate with the relevant Quality Council (QC) in terms of qualification development and quality assurance it must apply to SAQA for recognition. The three QCs are:

  • The Council on Higher Education (CHE) for the Higher Education sub-framework
  • Umalusi for the General and Further Education and Training sub-framework
  • The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) for the Trades and Occupations sub-framework.

The professional body may continue to function without SAQA recognition, however the extent of its involvement in the formal education and learning environment will be limited.

Professional bodies may register its members and employees on learnerships as long as the professional body is not the accredited provider of the qualification coupled to the learnership.

Potential problems may arise when professional bodies have to quality assure their own offering to learners and assess the learner. An additional area of conflict could arise when a professional body, which is also an accredited provider, is required to accredit other providers for the qualifications it already offers.

Professional bodies will be allowed to offer training as part of their CPD offerings to members. However, where such training leads to a registered qualification or part qualification the training must be conducted by an accredited provider.

SAQA will encourage co-operation and collaboration between the different bodies or associations across a sector. If no resolution can be found in this manner, SAQA will consider each application on its own merit.

SAQA policy requires that the same professional designations cannot be registered by more than one recognised professional body in South Africa.

The underlying qualification to a designation must be an NQF registered qualification. Clearly there must be a NQF registered underlying qualification/s in order for a designation to be registered on the NQF. The term qualification includes part-qualifications. This therefore implies that the underlying qualification of a designation can be linked to a part-qualification registered on the NQF.

A professional designation will not be registered at a specific NQF level. Only, the underlying qualifications of all professional designations will be registered at a specific NQF level.

A professional designation can be linked to multiple underlying qualifications. It is the responsibility of the professional body to determine which NQF registered qualification(s) are suitable to be regarded as underlying qualification(s) for the designation.

SAQA is the only body that recognises professional bodies and registers professional designations. If a professional body wishes to contribute to qualification development and quality assurance it must co-operate with the relevant QC. The relevant QC will be determined by the type and level of the qualification.

It is the professional body that will determine the titles of designations. However, the titles of underlying qualifications for professional designations in the Trades and Occupations sub-framework may be aligned to the OFO.

A person can hold any number of professional designations, each awarded by a different professional body. The National Learner Records Database  will be able to record more than one designation per person.

Different professional bodies are at different stages of development. SAQA be will be able to assist either aspiring or newly created professional bodies in terms of establishing themselves and adhering to the criteria of recognition.

SAQA will not charge professional bodies for the recognition of professional bodies or registration of professional designations on the NQF. However, SAQA reserves the right to recover costs in instances where unnecessary and wasteful costs are incurred.

A professional body which regulates an industry and which wishes to be involved in the education and training environment can apply for recognition as long as it adheres to the criteria. It will, however, be critical to demarcate the different roles the professional body will play, so that members and other organisations understand the different roles, who performs each role, and what the parameters of the focus of control is for each function.

Only if an internationally recognised professional designation adheres to the policy and criteria can it be registered on the NQF by SAQA.

In terms of qualifications such as NEBOSH, the underlying qualification for a professional designation must be an NQF registered qualification. Professional bodies using international qualifications must therefore take the necessary steps to ensure that these qualifications are registered on the NQF.

SAQA will, during the evaluation of an application for recognition, assess, amongst other things, the governance structure, the management structure and the sustainability of the professional body.

The designation/s of a professional body which looses its recognition status will be de-registered. The records of the holders of the designation will reflect a de-registration date and no new records will be added against the specific designation. Records of holders of de-registered designations will not be removed from the NLRD.

An applicant can achieve the underlying qualification through RPL. However, the RPL of the underlying qualification/s must be managed by an accredited provider.

Professional bodies will be required to regularly upload data against the “Specifications for Professional Bodies’ Load Files for the National Learners’ Records Database”. EduDex, a data validation utility, will be provided free of charge to professional bodies by SAQA and workshops will be offered on how to implement the load specifications.

The responsibility to verify the awarding of a designation to its members remains the responsibility of the professional body.

SAQA will interact with the professional body in instances where professional designations have already been registered as qualifications on the NQF to correct the problem.

SAQA will interact with the applying body and, if necessary, the relevant sector as a whole, should comments be received during the public comment phase. The SAQA Board will however make the final decision and an appeal process will be put into place.

SAQA will put measures in place to notify professional bodies of changes which providers may make to underlying registered qualifications.

The primary difference between statutory and voluntary bodies is that statutory bodies are mandated by legislation. However, in terms of recognition under the NQF Act, both statutory and non-statutory bodies may apply to SAQA.


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