Every country has its method of evaluating foreign qualifications from foreigners who intend to study in their country. In South Africa, the body responsible for this function is called the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). The process of evaluating your qualifications with SAQA can seem very stressful, but I am here to simplify it for you.
In this article, we will be looking at how to evaluate your qualifications with SAQA, and why SAQA evaluation is your first step to applying to a South African university and other tertiary institutions in South Africa. We will go through a brief explanation of why SAQA evaluates your documents and how your educational records are evaluated. I will show you which of your school certificates to send to SAQA, where and how to authenticate or certify your academic transcripts, and where to find the SAQA application forms. Also equally important to note is the cost of the evaluation and how to make payment to SAQA. All of this will be thoroughly addressed in this article. You can browse through this write-up using the table of content below.
What Is the Meaning of SAQA?
SAQA simply stands for the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). This agency of the South African government has a legal status and is recognized as a legal entity.
The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has a board made up of experts from different walks of life, such as the education, business, labour, and training sectors of the South African economy. These board members are appointed by South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education and Training.
Primary Purpose of SAQA
SAQA has the sole responsibility of ensuring that South Africa’s National Qualifications Framework is appropriately implemented.
The National Qualifications Framework is responsible for making sure that every knowledge and skills obtained through any formal learning in South Africa can be recognized throughout the country.
SAQA ensures that this implementation is done through its oversight functions. For international students applying to SAQA, the government authority evaluates the applicants’ certifications to determine if it is in line with the National Qualifications Framework requirements. Therefore, the South African immigration policy requires every application to be submitted to SAQA for proper evaluation. The evaluation is to determine if the credentials can be recognized as valid in South Africa.
SAQA also undertakes other primary functions stipulated in section 13 of the National Qualifications Framework Act of South Africa. Some of these functions include:
- Working together with the Quality Councils to maintain standards.
- Development and implementation of policies and criteria for its oversight functions of the National Qualification Framework.
- Undertake qualifications and part-qualifications registration on the National Qualification Framework.
- The body also gives recognition to professional organizations as well as the registration of other professional designations.
- SAQA initiates research and cooperates with its international counterparts for such purposes as at when due.
- They also maintain and preserve the National Learners Records Database.
- SAQA evaluates foreign qualifications. It also advises relevant bodies about such international qualifications.
- It also provides information for the public about the National Qualifications Framework.
- SAQA also acts in an advisory capacity to the South African Minister of Higher Education and Training.
Why SAQA Evaluates Documents
The primary reason why the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) undertakes to evaluate credentials submitted by applicants is to ensure that your educational documents are recognized across South Africa.
This evaluation is in fulfilment of the provisions of the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The National Qualifications Framework is the recognized educational framework in the country, and every application that is not in line with it will not be accepted. This framework is part of South Africa’s national integration plan to maintain a unified recognition value chain.
How SAQA Evaluation Is Done
The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) follows a two-stage evaluation process. To ensure that foreign qualifications are correctly verified, SAQA undertakes the following:
1) SAQA undertakes the accreditation or recognition of certificate-issuing bodies from various systems or countries. These issuing bodies include universities, polytechnics, Colleges of Education, the Ministry of Education, etc.
2) Determination of legitimacy to ensure that the accredited issuing bodies validly issued the certificates presented to SAQA. And that the documents submitted also form part of the national qualifications applicable in that country.
3) SAQA makes sure the credentials or qualification documents are authentic and genuine, as claimed by individuals.
4) Once the above is completed, SAQA compares the foreign qualifications to that of South African qualifications. It undertakes this function by viewing the structure and results of the international qualifications. After that, it places them within the South African National Qualification Framework.
Note The Following About Foreign Qualifications:
- Only nationally recognized institutions can issue a formal qualification that will be recognizable by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA).
- National institutions here refers to formal learning or educational institutions recognized by the Nigerian Ministry of Education and which have the federal license to operate as an educational body in Nigeria.
SAQA Does Not Recognize The Following As Foreign Qualifications:
- Professional memberships.
- Certificates issued at short courses like seminars, short training services, or workshops.
Therefore, any application with the following qualifications will simply be disregarded.
SAQA VeriSearch & The National Learners’ Record Database
The National Learners’ Record Database is saddled with the critical responsibility of managing the electronic information system that helps SAQA oversee the NQF. This procedure ensures that an accurate report is kept on all aspects of South Africa’s education and training system. The National Learners’ Records Database is the first of its kind in the whole world and provides vital information such as accredited providers or certificate issuers.
Therefore, the NLRD database provides a means for you to check if your educational institution is accredited or not through the National Learners’ Database or send an email to ‘email@example.com‘.
SAQA Application Forms
SAQA is a government entity that has both physical and online points of contact. You can either pick up SAQA hardcopy forms at their headquarters in Pretoria or simply fill out the application forms online. I recommend the online option. You can find the link to the online application here.
The steps for filling out the SAQA online application form is as follows:
• Register and set up an account on SAQA website
• Select New Application: Evaluation Option and fill out all the entries
• Print the application upon filling the forms
• Sign the Declaration page
• Print and fill the Consent form
• Submit your application
To pick up the paper form, find their address below.
SAQA Head Office is located at SAQA House, 1067 Arcadia Street, Hatfield, Pretoria, South Africa.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, SAQA has updated its application procedures, click here for the recent lockdown step-by-step guide.
If you need assistance with your application from SAQA’s help desk, call their official helpline number on +27 (0)860 111 673.
And for general inquiries via email, send your query to firstname.lastname@example.org
Cost of SAQA Evaluation Certificate
It is norm for SAQA to review its tariffs for applications from prospective applicants on date decided upon by the authority. In view of this, the tariffs listed below came into effect on the 1st of April 2020. It is important to note that the fees listed, are subject to review by the Evaluation Authority.
- Application Assistance through the SAQA office is R300.00 (N6,930.62)
- Non-refundable Application Fee is R300.00 (N6,930.62)
- Request to check the status of foreign education providers is R400.00 (N9,240.83)
- For screening, a non-refundable fee of R320 (N7,392.66) is charged.
Duration For SAQA Evaluation
South Africa Qualification Authority (SAQA) does not have a fast track or special evaluation services to speed up verification processes. All SAQA verification process is completed within 2–20 working days. However, the duration of each evaluation process depends on the priority selected during the application process, as well as the availability of the submitted record on the National Learners’ Record Database (NLRD).
The South African Qualification Authority standard with regards to evaluation or verification is to make sure that an outcome is done and decided within twenty (20) working days. If such is not achieved within this stipulated period, the request will be considered “inconclusive” and closed.
How To Make Payment to SAQA
For payment of applications, SAQA allows only two types of methods of payments.
The e-commerce option, which involves the payment through the use of registered bank cards, and can be done from any part of the world. Bank Cards issued by Mastercard and Visa are accepted, and payment can be done on SAQA’s website. This method is available to all applicants.
The second option is cash payment—this option involves the payment into SAQA’s bank account, which is domiciled with Standard Bank of Africa. Upon payment, a printout bank slip will be issued to you by the bank for further verification and processing. This method is only for applicants in South Africa. Find the banking details for SAQA below:
SAQA Banking Details:
Account Name: SAQA
Bank: Standard Bank of South Africa
Account number: 010 516 433
Branch code: 010 045
Swift code: SBZA ZA JJ + account no.
Remember to use your online application submission number as the reference when making payment.
NOTE: For each online application, applicants must make separate payments. A Unique Submission Number will be automatically linked to the payment made.
How To Send Your Academic Transcripts to SAQA
The South African Qualification Authority (SAQA), as a statutory body, receives academic transcripts from applicants from every corner of the world. You can send your documents to SAQA in two ways; either by dropping off your educational papers at the SAQA office in Pretoria or you can send them via a courier service.
All other methods apart from these methods will not be accepted by SAQA.
List Of Documents To Send To SAQA
The documents to be sent to SAQA must include the following:
|1||Application form||– A printout of your fully completed SAQA application form.|
– The signature of the applicant must be affixed in the application.
NOTE: All scanned or faxed documents will not be accepted due to the risk of alteration.
|2||Proof of Payment||– The total amount of money paid must be clearly indicated in the application, while the Proof of payment must be included.|
– All payments made, must be in accordance with any of the two valid methods (Debit card for all applicants or Bank deposit for applicants in South Africa).
– The Unique Submission Number must be indicated as a reference number at the top of the application form.
NOTE: All applications without the Unique Submission Number will not be considered.
|3||Proof of Identity||– A document showing the official name and valid identity (ID and other relevant permits) of the applicant must be present e.g. Your Nigerian International passport.|
– The statutory authority must stamp this document to authenticate it.
|4||Conscent Form||– A duly signed consent form which permits SAQA to authenticate and verify the application must be present in the application pack.|
|5||Qualification Documents||– These are your relevant academic documents.|
– All qualification documents to be sent are basically organized into two categories; general requirements for all applicants and specific requirements for applicants from specific countries.
List of Academic Documents Required For SAQA Evaluation
The following are a list of academic documents that you may be required to send to SAQA:
- Secondary School Leaving Certificate: Nigeria’s official examination body (WAEC, NECO, or JAMB) must issue the Secondary certificate that you present. This is only for applicants applying for the undergraduate programs.
- Complete Academic records and subject lists for postgraduate applicants: All the relevant certificates leading to the highest qualification obtained must be presented. Also, official verification and attestation letter from the institution must also be included.
– If you have a Bachelor’s degree, you only need your Bachelor’s certificate and transcripts.
– If you have OND + HND, you only need your certificates and transcripts
Sworn Translations For Foreign Certifications
There must be a sworn translation for certifications obtained from foreign countries and must be duly signed by the country’s issuing commission.
It is important to note that the following documents should not be included:
- Professional Certifications and Memberships from professional bodies.
- Workshop training and certificates earned through short courses.
- Certifications of courses studied outside your country’s education standard.
Why Your Certificates And Transcripts Are Compulsory For SAQA Evaluation
The South African Qualification Authority has made it compulsory for you to submit your academic transcript, especially for graduate programs applications. The transcripts to be submitted must be of high quality, and they must contain your official educational history.
These documents are vital because they contain essential information that is specific about the following:
– Courses offered and credits obtained
– The detailed composition of the academic program, and your
– Academic evaluation and performance.
Where And how To Authenticate Your Academic Documents In Nigeria
Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the statutory body responsible for discharging the duty of attestation and authentication of documents in Nigeria. To get your academic transcripts certified and authenticated, follow the procedures below:
- Visit the nearest Ministry of Education closest to you to submit all your educational certificates and documents for attestation and authentication. Expect to pay a small fee for this service.
- Upon proper scrutiny of, and attestation to all your certificates by the Ministry of Education, proceed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit your documents to the Legal Services Division for further authentication processes.
- Make necessary payments as instructed by the authorities at the Department of Legal Services. These payments come at different price tags depending on the certificate.
- After the payments must have been made, get a proof of payment. Afterwards, submit your academic transcripts for certification and attestation at the Department of Legal Services (LSD) of the Ministry.
- Await feedback from the LSD on the proposed date to ascertain your documents authentication process.
Extra SAQA Support Tips
For an easy and stress-free application experience for Nigerian SAQA applicants, the following extra support tips might be of valuable help to you;
- It is important to note that messages sent to SAQA may be delayed due to logistic issues.
- It is therefore crucial for applicants to be patient when dealing with the office of the Evaluation of Foreign Qualifications, as supports are given based on emergencies.
- To get more enquires from the office for attending to the evaluation of foreign qualifications, you can call 0124315070, for help on relevant issues.
- For general enquiries, send a query to the support email address: email@example.com.
- If you wish to visit the SAQA physical office in Pretoria, the office is open every weekday from 08:00 to 16:30
- National Qualification Framework related enquiries must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips For Calling SAQA Call Centre
- Make sure you employ all telephone communication etiquette
- Go straight to the point
- All information disclosed will be treated with confidentiality unless otherwise stated.
Availing yourself with valuable information on why SAQA is your first step is a bold step to securing your dream admission in a South African University. Leveraging on the support tips explained in this article will go a long way in reducing the stress involved in the documentation process, and the eventual authentication of your qualification documents and the issuance of your SAQA evaluation Certificate.
I advise you to master the evaluation procedures and make available all your relevant documents required for authentication to avoid unnecessary delays which might hinder your chances. Best of luck and don’t forget to share your experience below!