Matric NQF level

If you are busy completing your matric in South Africa you will certainly have come across the term NQF. NQF stands for National Qualification Framework and it forms a vital part of South Africa’s education system providing an official framework for all qualifications in the country.

Despite the importance of the NQF not many people know about it. That is why we decided to write this article to take a look at the NQF system, and what the matric NQF level entails. We hope this will help you to better understand the South African education system, and allow you to make an informed decision about your future after matric.

What is the NQF?

The NQF was developed and implemented by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) in response to South Africa’s need for a national education and training system that provides quality education. Designed to be responsive to ever-changing external influences, and promote the development of a nation committed to lifelong learning. It provides a framework for progressive levels of qualifications in South Africa that integrates education and training. It also ensures that learners’ achievements are recorded and that the skills and knowledge they acquire are recognised across the country. Every qualification in South Africa must be registered and accredited by SAQA to receive an NQF-level rating.

NQF levels

Under the NQF every qualification is assigned a specific NQF level. These levels range from 1-10 depending on the level of qualification. We will take a look at each level including the matric NQF level below:

  • NQF Level 1: This is the very first level and shows you have completed your General Education and Training (GET) certificate or Grade 9.
  • NQF Level 2: Awarded upon completion of an elementary certificate or Grade 10
  • NQF Level 3: This level signifies that a student has completed an intermediate certificate or Grade 11
  • NQF Level 4: This level is awarded upon completion of a national certificate or Grade 12, meaning that this is the matric NQF level.
  • NQF Level 5: The first level under higher education, it is awarded upon completion of a higher certificate which is a skills-focused qualification, not to be confused with a diploma.
  • NQF Level 6: This level is awarded upon completion of a diploma or advanced certificate.
  • NQF Level 7: This level signifies the completion of an advanced diploma or bachelor’s degree through a tertiary education institution.
  • NQF Level 8: This level is awarded upon completion of a postgraduate diploma or honours degree and can only be obtained once the student has achieved level 7.
  • NQF Level 9: A master’s degree.
  • NQF Level 10: This is the highest level and is awarded upon completion of a doctoral degree or PhD.

Matric NQF level

Now that you have a better understanding of the NQF system we can take a closer look at the matric NQF level. A matric certificate gives a learner an NQF level 4, however, there are a number of different qualifications at this level.

National Senior Certificate

The National Senior Certificate (NSC) is the standard matric certificate that is earned by attending and completing high school at the age of 18.

Amended Senior certificate

The Amended Senior Certificate or adult matric is a matric qualification awarded to those who complete the course after the age of 21 outside of school. 

National Certificate Vocational

The National Certificate Vocational (NC(V)) is a matric equivalent qualification that focuses on equipping learners with practical skills to make them work-ready. This qualification is earned at a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college and focuses on a specific trade.

N3 National certificate

National qualification courses, or NATED courses, are designed to use both theoretical and practical teachings to prepare students for the workplace. While N3 is an NQF level 4 qualification which is the same as the matric NQF level. Students are required to complete two language subjects with the N3 to receive the National Senior Certificate or matric.

While all of these qualifications are at NQF level 4 to indicate similar learning outcomes of the qualifications, they are not all the same. For example, they do not all allow you to apply for admission to a university. This is because universities require a National Senior certificate or matric for admission, meaning that the standard N3 qualification is not sufficient. This is important as it shows that while different qualifications may be registered at the same NQF level they are not necessarily equivalent.


As we have seen, the NQF system provides the framework for the South African education system. While ensuring that any skills and knowledge obtained by learners during the completion of their qualification are recognised across the country. Additionally, while the matric NQF level is 4 there are other qualifications at this level. However, they are not necessarily equivalent to a matric. We hope that this article has helped you to better understand the NQF system, and to help you better plan your future to achieve your dreams.

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