SA warning on foreign qualifications evaluation

SA Qualifications Authority SAQA warns students and employers that some foreign qualifications are misrepresented, and offers qualification evaluation.

SAQA qualification recommendations are made in the form of certificates of evaluation, to assist South African learners, workers, human resources officials and employers to interpret the value of foreign qualifications. Job applicants may also use the site to evaluate their own foreign qualifications.

Qualifications queried must be national qualifications in their home systems, and the awarding institutions must be accredited or recognised in those systems according to national policies or general practice.

SAQA is mandated by the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act to render a foreign qualifications evaluation and advisory service. The evaluation process entails the comparison of foreign qualifications with South African counterparts for recommending recognition of foreign qualifications at an appropriate NQF level.

SAQA explains that “accreditation in the USA is voluntary or state based. USA Federal and state authorities rely on it state accreditation in granting federal funding.

“Non-national qualifications pose a challenge to evaluators, since most have not been subjected to quality assurance processes… The popular term ‘international recognition’ is no guarantee of recognition or academic value”, said SAQA.

Qualifications issued by non-accredited institutions pose the risk of real or imaginary institutions infiltrating the education and training market for profit, often guilty of misrepresentation at the cost of learners and employers.

SAQA receives 24 000 applications for evaluation of foreign qualifications per year. Only 0.3% of these contain qualifications issued by non-accredited institutions, which are returned to applicants with a refund. Information about accreditation practices in relevant countries is provided.

Doubtful universities listed

“Some well-known names keep reappearing in applications and enquiries, and then disappear off the scene. In the 1980s and 1990s typical names were Newport University, Pacific Western University, Fairfax University, Knightsbridge University.

“In the 2000s there were many queries about Commonwealth Open University, Corllins University, Calvary University, Belford University and Rochville University. So-called degrees are typically awarded in Business Administration and Marketing,” said SAQA.

If SAQA suspects misrepresentation, further investigation incorporating verification measures is lodged. If proof of such misrepresentation has been established, an evaluation report is not issued, moneys are retained and the relevant authorities are notified.

SA NLR database of qualifications

In terms of a contract with Department Public Service and Administration, SAQA veries foreign qualifications of candidates for Cabinet appointments in the public service. Based on learner records in the National Learners’ Records Database and information from education and training providers, SAQA verifies authenticity of South African qualifications held by public servants.

“There is an increasing tendency to forge SAQA certificates of evaluation. SAQA is also aware that obscure operators like ‘South African Qualifications Board’, attempt to evaluate foreign qualifications on its behalf, charging applicants up to R4000.

Employers evaluating SAQA certificates should look for an original certificate with a SAQA hologram, or contact SAQA to verify the authenticity of copies.

Foreign qualifications evaluation service

SAQA evaluates foreign qualifications to assist decision-makers in interpreting these when foreign qualification holders are considered for work, study or other transactions.

A certificate is issued with placement recommendations in terms of appropriate levels of South Africa’s National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Users could register to update their details at any stage, and to request evaluation of foreign qualifications of applicants, noting their relationship with relevant qualification holders.

SAQA Directorate Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services no longer issues true copies of evaluation certificates to applicants. Photocopies of evaluation certificates are made available only to relevant third parties on request and on condition that full contact details are provided. Lost or damaged certificates are replaced only once, thereafter a new application must be lodged. Cost to replace certificates is R100 if issued from 1 June 2010 onwards, or R200 if issued before 1 June 2010.
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SAQA has published level descriptors for the 10-level NQF, available on SkillZHub. Users may register for general notices, or subscribe to access full functions of the portal.

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