What is the Route to be Followed to Complete a Higher Certificate in South Africa

On this page, we discuss what is the route that can be followed to complete a Higher Certificate in South Africa.

Higher education is a cornerstone for the personal and professional development of individuals, and in South Africa, one of the qualifications that serve as a foundational step into the tertiary sector is the Higher Certificate. This article elaborates on the route one can take to earn a Higher Certificate in South Africa.

What is the Route to be Followed to Complete a Higher Certificate in South Africa

In South Africa, to pursue a Higher Certificate, an individual must first complete their Grade 12 and obtain a National Senior Certificate (NSC). With this qualification in hand, they can select an accredited institution, such as a public university, TVET college, or private institution, that offers the desired Higher Certificate program. After choosing a field of study that aligns with their interests and career aspirations, they must enroll and register for the course. The Higher Certificate program, typically a one-year full-time (or two years part-time) course, involves a combination of theoretical and practical modules. Upon successful completion of all modules and meeting the institution’s requirements, the student is awarded the Higher Certificate. This qualification can also serve as a foundation for further studies, such as diploma programs.

Understanding the Higher Certificate

The Higher Certificate is a one-year, full-time course (or two years part-time) that follows the National Senior Certificate (NSC), or its equivalent. It’s a qualification that sits on Level 5 of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in South Africa. The primary purpose of a Higher Certificate is to provide a vocational or occupational orientation, equipping students with specific skills for the workplace.

Route to Completing a Higher Certificate

  1. Matriculation (Grade 12 Completion): The first step towards enrolling for a Higher Certificate is completing your Grade 12 with a National Senior Certificate (NSC). Each institution will have its specific admission requirements, but typically, a pass in the language of learning and teaching of the higher education institution is necessary.
  2. Choosing the Right Institution: South Africa boasts a variety of institutions where one can pursue a Higher Certificate. This includes public universities, TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) colleges, and private institutions. It’s essential to choose an institution accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE).
  3. Selecting a Field of Study: Higher Certificates are available in various fields, ranging from business and management to IT, arts, engineering, and more. It’s essential to pick a field that aligns with your career goals and passion.
  4. Enrollment and Registration: Once you’ve chosen an institution and a field of study, the next step is to enroll. This often involves submitting your matric results, completing the institution’s application form, and paying any applicable application fees.
  5. Coursework and Assessments: Upon registration, students will embark on their academic journey, which involves attending lectures, completing assignments, and undergoing assessments. The curriculum will be a blend of theory and practical work, ensuring students gain both knowledge and hands-on experience.
  6. Completion and Graduation: After successfully completing all modules and meeting the necessary pass requirements, students are awarded the Higher Certificate. This graduation signifies that they have the foundational knowledge and skills in their chosen field.
  7. Further Studies (Optional): A significant advantage of the Higher Certificate is that it can serve as a bridge to more advanced courses. Those who complete a Higher Certificate can often transition to a diploma program in a related field, provided they meet the necessary academic criteria.

Benefits of a Higher Certificate

  • Focused Learning: Higher Certificates are designed to impart specific skills, making them perfect for those who have a clear career trajectory in mind.
  • Affordability: Compared to more extended diploma or degree programs, Higher Certificates are relatively more affordable.
  • Flexibility: Many institutions offer part-time or distance learning options for Higher Certificates, allowing working professionals or those with other commitments to pursue higher education.


The Higher Certificate is a commendable entry point into South Africa’s higher education landscape. It offers individuals a targeted educational experience, preparing them for specific industries or serving as a stepping stone to more advanced qualifications. As with all educational pursuits, prospective students should research thoroughly, ensuring that their chosen institution and course align with their long-term goals.

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