Accreditation of short courses and certificate programmes

Short courses and certificate programmes presented by the University of Pretoria through CE at UP are not unit standard based and not credit bearing on the National Qualifications Framework, but are fully recognised by the University of Pretoria.  Delegates successfully completing a course and who comply with the relevant assessment criteria, receive a certificate of successful completion from the University of Pretoria. 

The Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), a permanent sub-committee of the CHE, is responsible for evaluating and reporting on the effectiveness of the quality management systems of higher education institutions in relation to assessment, short courses, certification arrangements, and recognition of prior learning (RPL).  The HEQC commended the University of Pretoria for the initiative taken to establish CE at UP which has improved the administrative efficiency, management information systems, marketing efficiency and income generation of short courses and also allowed the institution to respond to the broad skills needs of society (HEQC Audit Report, October 2008:15).

The below illustration describes the registration and recording process followed for whole qualifications and short courses offered by the University of Pretoria. 


General comments

SAQA, in its Criteria and Guidelines for Short Courses and Skills Programmes, defines a short course as ‘a type of short learning programme (<120 credits) through which a learner may or may not be awarded credits, depending on the purpose of the programme’.

  • A credit-bearing short course is a type of short learning programme for which credits, in relation to the course's contribution to a particular programme, unit standard and/or (part) qualification, are awarded. (Paraphrased from CHE, 2001:44). A credit-bearing short course contains less than 120 credits.
  • A non-credit-bearing short course is a type of short learning programme for which no credits are awarded in relation to unit standards or (part) qualifications depending on the purpose and/or assessment of the programme.

A further important differentiation is madebetween qualifications and short learning programmes:

  • A qualification must, in terms of the rules of combination, contain fundamental,core and elective learning.
  • A short learning programme focuses on a particular part of a qualification, which

may include learning in the fundamental or core or elective areas (or acombination thereof), but will not lead to the achievement of the full qualification

A short course is an instructor-led training course that focuses on the transfer of a narrow range of methods and skills. As short course provisioning is particularly associated with ‘just in time’ and ‘just enough’ learning to meet a specific need in workplace environments, it is often used to disseminate research findings and share new knowledge, to keep learners up-to-date with new developments in their field, and to upgrade skills and knowledge in the particular field.  As such, short courses are also associated with continuing professional development.

Short courses have a place in the South African education system although they are not necessarily formally captured on the NLRD. Short courses help enhance practice and improve competency, skills and knowledge. They are meant to fill a gap in skills development and they should enable learners to apply their newly gained knowledge and skills to practical situations in the workplace.The aim and value of short courses lie in the development, up-skilling and multi-skilling of human resources, irrespective ofwhether they are credit-bearing towards formal qualifications.

Providers of short courses are increasingly subjected to pressures created by employers for registration and accreditation as providers so that the repayment of a percentage of the levy grant (as per the Skills Development Levies Act) by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) could be effected.  There is a belief that employers can only claim their levies back when making use of accredited providers.  This is not entirely correct.  In the Government Gazette (No 20865 of 7 February 2000) it is clear that the Skills Development Levies Act provides for recovery of the levy payment based on the submission of Workplace Skills Plans (WSPs), Workplace Skills Implementation Plans (WSIPs) and the submission of the names of skills development facilitators (SDFs).

A balance between the two imperatives: delivering training against WSPs and SSPs and delivering learning programmes that will lead to credits towards unit standards and part qualifications will ensure that short course provisioning takes its place in the development and implementation of the emerging education and training system.

Enquiries regarding the status of short courses and certificate programmes offered through CE at UP can be directed to the General Manager of CE at UP