The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act (Act 67 of 2008) requires that the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) develops a policy for Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) after consultation with the three Quality Councils (QCs). This is the first time a national policy on CAT has been developed in South Africa. The introduction of CAT has been given a high priority in South Africa as one of the tools that will positively contribute to the facilitation of lifelong learning.
This process will have a positive impact on the education and training system as it puts in place nationally agreed principles which have the potential to ensure that opportunities for individuals to progress, from qualification to qualification in the NQF, are increased. It promotes articulation between qualifications within and across the three sub-frameworks of the NQF and has the potential to improve access to the world of work.
Credit accumulation and transfer refers to an arrangement whereby the diverse features of both credit accumulation and credit transfer are combined to facilitate lifelong learning and access to the workplace. Credits previously obtained may be recognised as meeting the requirements for a different qualification, and, subject to identified limits, the credits achieved towards one qualification may be recognised as meeting part of the requirements for another qualification. Decisions regarding the transfer of credit are made by the Quality Council(s) responsible for the qualifications in question, once the necessary evaluations have been completed.
Principles for CAT
The Watson Corporate Academy is guided by the CAT policy principles for developing, quality assuring and/or offering qualifications in the NQF. These principles are as follows:
A. Access for success
The Watson Corporate Academy will facilitate the bridging of theory and/or practical components that are identified as weaknesses during admission and/or RPL processes in order to promote the credit accumulation and transfer. Employees are supported when they enrol for courses in new sectors or more advanced courses, by identifying gaps in knowledge and/or skills and making arrangements to supply these gaps through bridging courses or other supplementary work.
B. Articulation by design
Possibilities for articulation pathways, including within and between the sub-frameworks of the NQF and the African Global employees’ world of work, are included in the design and purposes of new qualifications and part-qualifications in order to promote CAT.
C. Comparison based on credible methods
In promoting CAT, qualifications are compared based on credible methods that determine the extent to which their curricular properties, as well as their content and outcomes match, as guided by the NQF level descriptors. The comparison of qualifications takes into account the purpose of each qualification as well as the broader application of the qualifications within the context for which they were designed. The degree of similarity between qualifications ensures that learners have the necessary knowledge and background to be successful in more advanced courses. The decisions of receiving departments or institutions on the transfer of credit may be appealed by providers or learners using processes agreed by the QCs.
Where there are differences in prerequisites, the rigour of the curriculum, or the topics covered, the Watson Corporate Academy may require the learner to do supplementary work before credits are awarded. This supplementary work is determined in a fair, consistent and transparent manner, using credible methods, and in consultation between the two institutions. The amount of credits will vary according to the comparability of the outcomes gained to the outcomes required.
Rules, regulations and any register of precedents which inform, influence or govern decisions taken in respect to CAT are valid, fair, reliable and transparent. They must be publicly available (as set out in the Watson Corporate Academy Policy) and drawn to the attention of intending learners prior to enrolment.
Credit accumulation and transfer in the context of the NQF
Credit within the context of the NQF is a measure of the volume of learning required for qualification or part-qualification, quantified as the number of notional study hours required for achieving the learning outcomes specified for the qualification or part-qualification at a specific level of the NQF, as described in the level descriptors. One credit is equated to ten (10) notional hours of learning.
The development of possible pathways for articulation during the design of new qualifications and part-qualifications contributes to effective CAT.
Articulation within the NQF is both systemic and specific:
- Systemic articulation is based on legislation, national policy and formal requirements, including within and between the sub-frameworks of the NQF, and the steering mechanisms available to the State, such as funding and planning within the education and training system.
- Specific articulation is based on formal and informal agreements within the education and training system, mostly between two or more education and training sub-systems, between specific institutional types, and guided by guidelines, policies, and accreditation principles.
- Systemic and/or specific articulation may apply to qualifications, part-qualifications and professional designations.
Credit accumulation can take place in the following forms:
A. In the case of systemic articulation:
(i) National – the recognition and accumulation of credits across all institutions within South Africa.
B. In the case of specific articulation:
(i) Intra-institutional – the totalling of credits within a specific institution, or department within an institution.
(ii) Inter-institutional – the recognition and accumulation of credits between two or more institutions. In these instances, the purpose of the qualification, the associated learning outcomes, the nature of the curriculum, and the value of the credits are taken into account.
Credit transfer is the process whereby credits awarded in one learning programme can count towards:
A. the same learning programme in another institution;
B. another learning programme on the same or a different level of the NQF, the same or a different sub-framework of the NQF, a different department in the same institution, or in a different institution.
Responsibilities for the implementation of Credit Accumulation and Transfer:
The development and implementation of CAT is the joint responsibility of the Department of Higher Education and Training, the Department of Basic Education, SAQA, the QCs, education institutions and skills development providers, assessment bodies, recognised professional bodies and workplaces.