What are FET Colleges?
FET colleges, also known as Further Education and Training Colleges, are private and public learning institutions that are accredited by sector specific education and training authorities that monitor the quality of the education provided by each FET college.
FET colleges provide ongoing education up to NQF (National Qualifications Framework) Level 4, which is the same level of education as matric, or grade 12, which is also credited as NQF 4. These colleges focus on vocational training and accept students who are in possession of an NQF 1 certificate or an Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) qualification Level 4. This is equivalent to a grade 9 General Education and Training National Certificate.
Education provided at FET colleges is seen as vocational training. This means that students are allowed to focus and specialise in one of 11 fields for which the National Certificate (Vocational) makes provision. Learners focus on one field of specialisation, obtaining NQF levels 2-4 in three years. This provides learners who do not intend to go to university or Technikon with an opportunity to obtain a specialised qualification and have excellent employment prospects.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation for FET colleges means that these colleges provide learning of a specific standard that falls within the policy guidelines of Umalusi and the Department of Higher Education and Training. Accreditation is very important for any FET college, as it ensures that the qualifications offered by these institutes of learning comply with national guidelines, ensuring that they are useful in the workplace.
Umalusi accredits only private FET colleges and its Evaluation and Accreditation Unit is responsible for the accreditation of private FET colleges. It also oversees the accreditation of examination bodies that examine qualifications offered by FET colleges both public and private. Public providers such as public schools, public adult learning centres and public FET colleges do not need to apply for accreditation. It is, however, important to note that all private FET colleges must be registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.
Accreditation is provided for national qualifications, which are formal qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which is the centralised register of all the nationally recognised qualifications in South Africa. National qualifications are quality assured by the relevant sector education and training authority (SETA) or Umalusi. These qualifications carry national credits and are certified by the SETA, Council for Higher Education, or Umalusi, not by a provider (which will be the college you study at).
Are all FET Colleges accredited?
No. Whilst it is mandatory for private FET colleges to obtain accreditation from Umalusi, a SETA, or the Council for Higher Education, public FET colleges do not need accreditation, as they are part of the state’s network of learning institutions. If you attend a public FET college, your qualification will be accredited. If you attend a private FET college, it is important to ensure that your qualification is indeed accredited.
Do the following to ensure that the course you want to enrol for, and the college you want to attend, is accredited:
If you intend to enrol for a nationally recognised qualification, request written proof from the college that the qualification is registered on the NQF. The NQF ID number should be in evidence or check whether it is registered by going to the website for the South African Qualifications Authority. You can confirm this on the SAQA website.
Ask for evidence (this should be a certificate) that the provider is registered with the Department of Basic Education or the Department of Higher Education and Training to offer specific national qualifications. Request proof that the college is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training. The college should present you with a registration number.
Request proof from the college that it has approval or accreditation from the relevant SETA, Umalusi or the Council for Higher Education to offer the qualification.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you will ensure that you study at a registered college that has been accredited to offer the national qualifications up to NQF 4.