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National diplomas and national N diplomas have very different qualification descriptors. In this article we will explore the national N diploma and its function within the education system. 

THIS ARTICLE COVERS:

  • What is a national diploma?
  • Is a national N diploma equivalent to a national diploma?
  • What further studies can I do with a national N diploma?
  • Is a national N diploma earned through full-time or part-time study?
  • Can I apply to university with a national N diploma?
  • First a National Diploma in Public Administration, then a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management
  • National Diploma in Public Administration requirements 

What is a national diploma?

A national diploma is accredited by the Quality Council for Trade and Occupation (QCTO) and can include qualifications ranging from National Qualification Framework (NQF) level 5 to NQF level 7. There are currently 124 qualifications registered as national diplomas on the South African Qualification Authority’s website. These qualifications designed for people who want to advance their skills and make themselves more employable). Each qualification specifies the skills set in the qualification designator: for example – National Diploma: Public Administration. 

Is a national N diploma equivalent to a national diploma?

National N diplomas are awarded to candidates who complete three levels of National Accredited Technical Education Diploma (Nated) qualifications: N4, N5 and N6. Once all three levels are complete, a national N diploma is awarded. This qualification requires 18 months of theoretical studies at a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college, plus 18 months’ relevant workplace experience as an artisan or intern. Without the 18 months’ workplace experience, the qualification is not awarded. 

A national N diploma is not equivalent to a national diploma. To enter a national N diploma programme you need a matric certificate or a completed Nated level 3 qualification. The national N diploma qualifications are focused on specific trades like engineering, hair care, financial management, motor mechanic, and so on. Their associated workplace programmes must focus on apprenticeships, where the specialised trade is practiced under supervisors and specialists. 

National diplomas have integrated workplace activities relevant to the specialisation, but they are not like apprenticeships. They can, however, be linked to learnerships … which is a different educational practice altogether!

What further studies can I do with a national N diploma?

Once a student receives a national N diploma he or she is equipped to be employed in their chosen trade. A student will have a minimum of 18 months’ work experience, comprehensive skills linked to their trade, and an accredited qualification. 

Is a national N diploma earned through full-time or part-time study?

The national N diploma is combines full- and part-time study. The theoretical part of the qualification is studied at a TVET college on a full-time basis. The apprenticeship, however, is done in an actual workplace, working with other tradespeople to learn from them and to practice the trade. During this time students have to complete workplace documents specific to their trade and either send them to their colleges or submit them online to the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Can I apply to university with a national N diploma?

This depends on the programme you wish to study, and the requirements of the higher education institution offering it. If you wish to apply for an NQF level 6 qualification, a national N diploma should give you access to the programme. 

If you want to apply for a bachelor’s degree programme, which starts at NQF level 5 and exits at level 7, you will need a matric certificate (NQF level 4) with a bachelors’ pass. Depending on the institution, you might also need to have achieved particular marks for specific subjects in matric.

National Diploma in Public Administration requirements

First a National Diploma in Public Administration, then a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management

Regenesys Business School’s Higher Certificate in Public Management and Higher Certificate in Business Management programmes both admit students with national N diplomas. Both programmes are accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE).  

National Diploma in Public Administration requirements 

Regenesys also offers a National Diploma in Public Administration (exit level NQF 7). The National Diploma in Public Administration requirements for admission are an NQF level 6 qualification or any related financial, management, administration, or public administration degree.

Should you wish to advance to a middle management position in the public service, you might consider applying for Regenesys’ Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management – an NQF 7 qualification, which you could enter on the strength of your national diploma. 

And once you have completed the more advanced postgraduate diploma in public administration and management (NQF level 8), you could go on to do your master’s (NQF level 9), provided it is in a related field. So if you are planning to advance into the senior ranks of the public service, a Master of Public Management degree would be a sensible choice.

REFERENCES

  • Government of South Africa. (2007). The Higher Education Qualifications Framework.
  • South African Qualifications Authority. (2023). National N Diploma.

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Donald Block
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MPM; PDP; BEd; FETC Facilitator | Regenesys School of Public Management

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MPM; PDP; BEd; FETC Facilitator | Regenesys School of Public Management

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