Colleges always make a point of telling you that they offer accredited courses. What does it mean and why is it so important?
If you’re thinking about doing a college, short, or online course, then you’ll know that every institute you’ve researched has boldly advertised that it’s accredited. But universities don’t do that. Why? Because all universities have to be accredited. If they weren’t accredited, they wouldn’t exist.
When a course is accredited, it means an official body (such as the government) gives authority to an educational institution when specific standards are met. In simple terms it means this: there has to be a certain standard and quality of education otherwise institutes could just teach the students enough to have a basic knowledge.
In South Africa, one such accreditation is awarded by SANAS – the South African National Accreditation System. SANAS looks at the qualifications of the lecturers (did they study to teach FET and what did they qualify in), the quality of the institution and services they offer (admin, financial support, etc), the text books they use and base their lectures on (the content and accuracy of it). They also check the quality of the laboratories and facilities.
Private colleges like Oxbridge Academy need to be registered with the DHET (Department of Higher Education and Training) to provide educational services in South Africa under the Further Education and Training Colleges Act 16 of 2006.
From there on there are numerous accreditation bodies responsible for accrediting specific courses offered by the college. Each sector or industry in SA has a SETA (Sector Educational and Training Authority) that acts as an accreditation body, for example. International accreditation bodies can also accredit specific courses offered by colleges.
That’s why all universities are accredited. They HAVE to meet those standards, since most universities are internationally accredited too. So I’m pretty sure you can see that accreditation is pretty important when it comes to education. SANAS and DHET looks at the international standard and awards accreditation based on the international standards, therefore they are the same across the globe.
Why it’s important for you
Some companies simply will not hire you without an accredited diploma or certificate, because they can’t be sure that you received all of the knowledge and skills you need.
Companies are willing to pay more for people with degrees and accredited diplomas because it means that they know for a fact that their employees were taught everything they needed to know while studying. With non-accredited institutions, there is no proof that you were taught the correct knowledge and skills.
Unless you just want to know how to do basic personal grooming and hygiene courses, such as make-up or hair styling, or basic programming for your own purposes then accreditation is important.
How to know if it’s accredited or not
Generally the institution will tell you on their website if they are accredited or not. Look under “About us” or on their general information pages. If you CAN’T find any information about accreditation on their website then give them a call. Hopefully they will give you a straight answer.
If not, I would start getting suspicious. It’s a simple yes or no question, not rocket science. Here are a few signs to look out for when researching an institution:
- They claim they are accredited but have no proof.
- They are suspiciously cheap. It seems way too good to be true.
- They only ask for your CV in the application process.
- Their courses are really short. A course on electrical engineering shoulnd’t only be 4 weeks, for example.
- They offer no information on their location.
- Make claims and state statistics as fact but have no proof.
If you want to be certain before you completely disregard them as an institution, then contact DHET and ask them to check if they are on the list of accredited South African institutions.
A Ray of Sunshine
Luckily we have many accredited institutions in South Africa. One of them is the Oxbridge Academy. Oxbridge is a distance learning institution that offer short learning programmes and skills certificates. The courses are accredited by different accreditation bodies – relevant to the fields in which they fall. For example, some of the bookkeeping courses are accredited by the ICB.
The institutes that accredit Oxbridge’s various courses include:
- ETDP SETA
Not all courses are accredited, however, as Oxbridge also offers numerous skills-development training programmes.
Oxbridge offers a wide range of nationally accredited courses. They range from N1-N6 National Qualifications. You can see the full list.
In general, their short courses are 6 months (not a ridiculously short amount of time) and their other courses vary according to which specific one you take. All short courses are skills-development programmes and not accredited, which means you do them to gain specific skills or knowledge, not to gain a qualification.
The duration is just an estimate, since it is distance learning and you can complete it in less or more time. The duration all depends on how fast you work through your study material.
Their accredited courses are generally 12 months or longer. This might seem long, but it also means you get a legitimate qualification. Courses might also work in levels; you can do N1 all the way up to N3 in Engineering Studies, for example (which will mean you might take 3 years in total). But each level is a qualification on its own.
They’re also very finance friendly. You can work out various payment options with them. Have a look at their 2016 course price list. Check it out and let it sway you into deciding to study (or not).
Studying is an important part of your life. You get people that are really lucky and don’t need a qualification to make a success out of themselves. But some of us do.
For those of us who do, not many of us can afford to study or don’t have the time to go into full-time studying. We find ourselves in a very tough situation. Thankfully places like Oxbridge Academy, who offer accredited courses at reasonable prices, exist. Without that, the general population will be stuck in a rut with no way to get out.
If you would like to improve your CV or enrich your education, then studying a distance learning course is a great way to expand on your knowledge. And doing so through an accredited institution will increase your worth to companies greatly. So take the bait and find out more about distance learning and how it can be advantageous for you.