How to Apply Umalusi CAT Policy: Provider Tips

Dive into the Umalusi CAT Policy. Seamless credit transfers for learners' success! Your guide to transparent credit accumulation and transfer in education.

Understanding the Umalusi CAT Policy: A Simple Guide

Dive into the Umalusi CAT Policy.

Introduction to the Umalusi CAT Policy

Seamless credit transfers for learner and institutional success!

Your guide to transparent credit accumulation and transfer.

Umalusi’s Policy and Criteria for Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) play a crucial role in the General and Further Education and Training Qualifications Sub-framework (GFETQSF).

umalusi cat policy credit accumulation transfer

1. What is CAT?

  1. CAT, or Credit Accumulation and Transfer, is a system that acknowledges previously earned credits toward a qualification or part-qualification.
  2. These qualifications are credit-bearing as they are registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
  3. So if you’ve met the credit requirements, then these credits can count towards a qualification or part-qualification.

2. How Does CAT Work?

  1. Recognition of Previous Credits: CAT allows for the recognition of credits obtained previously. This means you met the relevant credit requirements for a qualification or part-qualification on the NQF.
  2. Transfer of Credits: Recognized credits can then be transferred to meet part of the requirements for a qualification or part-qualification. The decisions about credit transfer are made by recognized education and training providers.
rpl and other policies for accreditation consultation

3. Key Components of the Umalusi CAT Policy

Decoding the Umalusi CAT Policy

3.1 CAT in Context

Umalusi’s CAT Policy operates within the GFETQSF. It therefore sets the stage for recognizing and transferring credits within this education and training framework.

3.2 The Umalusi CAT Policy Framework Integration

Umalusi’s CAT Policy should be read with these documents”

  • Level Descriptors for the South African NQF,
  • SAQA’s National Policy, and Criteria for the Implementation of RPL,
  • as well as Umalusi’s Policy for the Implementation of RPL in the GFETQSF.
Supplementary Work and RPL

When additional work or assessment is needed to close gaps in CAT processes, recognized providers may conduct a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process.

This assesses informal and non-formal knowledge and skills.

This then bridges the gap for awarding credits.

3.3 Recognizing Past Credits

CAT acknowledges previously earned credits that meet the requirements for a qualification.

These accumulated credits can be used towards another qualification or part-qualification.

Accredited education providers make credit transfer decisions following evaluations aligned with the CAT Policy.

occupational training impact

3.4 How The Umalusi CAT Policy Meets the NQF Objectives

In implementing CAT, SAQA and Umalusi aim to achieve NQF objectives by:

  • Developing an integrated and transparent national framework for recognizing learning achievements.
  • Ensuring South African qualifications meet Ministerial criteria and international comparability.
  • Ensuring the quality of South African qualifications is acceptable.

4. Section 4 Umalusi CAT Policy: Understanding the Background

4.1 The Integrated NQF System

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is a unified system.

It is propped by three distinct sub-frameworks overseen by different bodies, specifically:

  • Higher Education Qualifications Sub-framework (HEQSF) overseen by the CHE.
  • General and Further Education and Training Qualifications Sub-framework (GFETQSF) monitored by Umalusi.
  • The Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework (OQSF) is managed by the QCTO.
meaning of traditional education banner

4.2 Structure of GFETQSF

  • The GFETQSF is a register of qualifications. This includes general and vocational categories. Each comprises various subjects with designated variants.
  • Umalusi is the overseer. Umalusi therefore establishes and upholds standards through quality assurance of intended, enacted, and assessed curricula.

4.3 Umalusi’s Policy Framework

  • Umalusi’s Policy for the GFETQSF (2014) outlines the nature and scope of qualifications within the GFETQSF. This creates a common understanding of qualification relationships.
  • This related policy sets parameters for designing national qualifications. It therefore ensures general comparability and accessibility across the national education system.

4.4 Qualifications in Formal Education

The GFETQSF comprises qualifications offered within formal education contexts.

This encompasses both general and vocational qualifications.

4.5 Mastery of Knowledge and Skills

Ultimately all qualifications within the GFETQSF require mastery of disciplinary knowledge and associated skills.

Thus emphasizing a comprehensive approach to education.

4.6 Quality Assurance

Quality assurance is integral to system cohesion.

Therefore, Umalusi actively monitors the implementation and quality assurance of registered qualifications within the GFETQSF.

As a result, they only certify those that meet applicable policies.

5. The Umalusi CAT Policy Legislative Framework: Compliance and Quality

5.1 Umalusi’s Designation and Origin

  • Umalusi, designated as the Quality Council (QC) for General and Further Education and Training by the NQF Act (Act 67 of 2008), operates under the GENFETQA Act (Act 58 of 2001), amended in 2008.
  • Established under the SAQA Act (Act 58 of 1995), it seamlessly transitioned to the NQF Act, effective from June 1, 2009.

5.2 Umalusi’s Council and Responsibilities

As per the GENFETQA Act, Umalusi Council bears responsibility for the GFETQSF of the NQF. Section 27 of the NQF Act outlines Umalusi’s functions, with section 27(h)(ii) emphasizing its role in:


6. Umalusi CAT Policy Scope: Implementing Section 27(h)(ii) of the NQF Act

6.1 Fulfilling NQF Act Requirements

This Policy and Criteria play a pivotal role in meeting the mandates of section 27(h)(ii) of the NQF Act.

It specifically addresses Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) and exemptions within the educational framework.

6.2 Interconnected Policies

To grasp the full picture, this policy must be considered alongside several key policies, in summary:

  1. Umalusi’s Policy for the GFETQSF
  2. Umalusi’s Policy for the management of qualifications in the GFETQSF
  3. Umalusi‘s Policy and Criteria for the development, registration, and publication of qualifications for the GFETQSF
  4. SAQA’s Policy and Criteria for CAT within the NQF
  5. The SAQA Policy and Criteria for the Implementation of RPL
  6. SAQA’s Policy and Criteria for Designing and Implementing Assessment for NQF Qualifications and Part-Qualifications and Professional Designations in South Africa
  7. DHET Articulation Policy.

6.3 Applicability to Qualifications and Institutions

This policy extends its reach to:

6.4 Responsibilities in Qualification Evolution

The Policy and Criteria address responsibilities associated with both:

  • Credit accumulation and transfer in existing qualifications.
  • The development of new qualifications on the GFETQSF.
career pathing for learnerships and apprenticeships

7. Empowering Learners and Institutions: The Umalusi CAT Policy Purpose

7.1 Advancing Learning Pathways

  • The Policy and Criteria for CAT are designed with a clear purpose: to enhance learners’ articulation and learning pathways.
  • The aim is to facilitate lifelong learning, ensuring learners have access to new educational opportunities while avoiding unnecessary repetition of acquired knowledge.

7.2 Guiding the Education Sector

This policy serves as a guide for the General and Further Education and Training sector.

It provides essential guidelines for developing institutional Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), CAT, and assessment policies.

This guidance occurs within the broader context of national policies set by SAQA and within the GFETQSF.

7.3 Strengthening NQF Objectives

The Policy and Criteria for CAT actively contribute to the fulfillment of NQF objectives, specifically:

  • Facilitating Access and Progression: By enabling access, mobility, and progression within education, training, and career paths (as outlined in section 5 (1)(b) of the NQF Act).
  • Then Addressing Historical Injustices: Accelerating the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training, and employment opportunities, in alignment with section 5 (1) (d) of the NQF Act.

7.4 Advantages for Individuals and the Workforce

This CAT Policy and Criteria seek to:

  • Firstly, Develop Efficient Processes: Facilitate the creation of credible, efficient, and transparent CAT processes within and between NQF sub-frameworks.
  • Secondly, Benefit Individuals and the Workforce: Aim to benefit individuals navigating progression between qualifications and part-qualifications. Bridge the gap between education and the professional world.

CAT means you don’t have to repeat the learning process for something you are already credited for.

8. The Umalusi CAT Policy Articulation in GFETQSF: A Holistic Perspective

8.1 Defining Articulation

  • Articulation is the process of establishing connections between qualifications and/or part-qualifications. Therefore, it enables learners to move horizontally, vertically, and diagonally within the formal education and training system and its connections to the world of work.
  • Articulation also involves systemic, specific (institutional/programme), and individual learner levels. Neglecting any of these levels can jeopardize the overall articulation opportunity.
  • Education institutions require articulation policies to support the NQF portability principles. This means learning credits must be transferable between institutions and from one qualification to another.

8.2 Horizontal Articulation in GFETQSF

  • Within the GFETQSF, articulation is horizontal/lateral, occurring within and between NQF sub-frameworks on the same level.
  • The goal is to enhance learners’ learning pathways, support lifelong learning, and finally, prevent unnecessary repetition of acquired knowledge.
rpl qualifications

8.3 CAT and RPL: Driving Articulation

  • CAT and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) play crucial roles in facilitating articulation within the national education and training system.
  • CAT involves accumulating credits from one or more related learning programs and transferring them for recognition in a qualification/part qualification offered by the same or a different provider.
  • Notional hours and credit accumulation are intricately linked, with one credit equaling ten notional hours of learning.

8.4 Determining Relationships through Research

The relationships between qualifications gained through CAT are determined by research.

You assess the degree of overlap or equivalence of related curricula through research. Qualifications allowing CAT can exist on the same or different sub-frameworks.

8.5 Progressing through Credit Accumulation

Credit accumulation involves progressively achieving subject statements/certificates toward a qualification over an extended period.

If these subjects adhere to the qualification’s rules of combination, the full qualification may be awarded upon request.

8.6 Time Limits for Qualification Completion

Some qualifications may have stipulated maximum completion times, emphasizing the importance of timely progress.

8.7 Equivalence Evaluation for Recognition

Recognition or credit accumulation and transfer are not automatic for all subjects.

To clarify, acceptance is determined by the nature and structure of the desired qualification, assessed through an evaluation of equivalence at the curriculum level.

9. The Umalusi CAT Policy Bridges Qualifications: Articulation Across NQF Sub-frameworks

9.1 Facilitating Articulation in the GFETQSF

  • For extensive national qualifications within the GFETQSF, regulating articulation options between qualifications is essential. This includes making connections between national qualifications and others on different sub-frameworks.
  • For example, such as the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-framework (HEQSF) or the Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework (OQSF).
  • The comparability of criteria for qualification purpose, curriculum, uniform quality assurance, and assessment enables seamless articulation.

9.2 Processes for Cross-Sub-framework Articulation

Enabling Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) between qualifications in different NQF sub-frameworks involves various processes, for example:

  • Identifying Access Possibilities: Outline access possibilities in a qualification policy.
  • Regulating Formal Relationships: Establish formal relationships between qualifications.
  • Conducting Research: Research the extent and nature of curriculum overlap for articulation.
  • Curriculum and Assessment Alignment: Actively rework curricula and assessments across qualifications to create a functional and recognized bridge between them.

10. Umalusi CAT Policy Principles: Ensuring Integrity in Credit Accumulation and Transfer

10.1 Building Trust: Foundational to Recognition

Recognition of credits across qualifications depends on the establishment of mutual trust.

This trust is rooted in the nature and extent of effective quality assurance.

10.2 Grounded in Research

The relationship between qualifications in the GFETQSF and other NQF sub-frameworks is guided by thorough research.

This research determines the degree of overlap or equivalence between curricula.

It also facilitates the recognition of learning and credit transfer.

10.3 Specificity Matters

The recognition of credits for transfer hinges on various factors:

  • the nature of qualifications, their relationship, the complexity of curricula, and the assessment methods.
  • Specificity is key to ensuring accurate and meaningful credit recognition.

10.4 Explicit Regulations

Umalusi commits to transparency by publishing regulations governing credit transfer.

Clear guidelines ensure fairness and consistency in the implementation of CAT policies.

10.5 Bilateral Recognition

While bilateral recognition is ideal, there may be situations where recognition occurs unilaterally.

Such decisions should be guided by a careful analysis of the portions to be transferred.

10.6 Transparent Governance

Rules, regulations, and precedents governing CAT decisions must be valid, fair, reliable, and transparent.

They should be publicly available and communicated to learners before enrollment.

10.7 Designing for Articulation

Articulation pathways, both within and between NQF sub-frameworks and the world of work, must be integral to the design and purposes of new qualifications and part-qualifications.

10.8 Recognizing South African Credits

To recognize and transfer credit, it’s crucial that the credit was previously awarded towards a qualification or part-qualification registered on the NQF and offered by a recognized provider in South Africa.

10.9 Appeals for Recognition

Recognized providers have the right to appeal CAT decisions if other institutions fail to recognise their learners.

This happens when credits linked to their NQF-registered qualifications/part-qualifications are not acknowledged by the providers to which learners seek to transfer.

10.10 Addressing Overlaps

Where CAT finds overlaps of less than 80%, the recognized provider may choose not to recognize accumulated credit.

They must provide guidance on alternative learning pathways, conduct an RPL process, or require supplementary assessment before recognizing credits.

10.11 Upholding Parity of Esteem

Parity of esteem among institutions is a foundational principle.

This means institutions must use effective communication and make constructive suggestions.

Which in turn means that they can’t simply deny access, but must make justified explanations for non-articulation scenarios.

What is Parity of Esteem in Education?

“Parity of esteem” in the context of education typically refers to the equal recognition and value given to different types of educational institutions and pathways.

It emphasizes that all forms of education, whether academic or vocational, should be regarded with equal respect and importance.

This concept suggests that there should not be a hierarchy that places one type of education institution or pathway above another.

For example, parity of esteem means that traditional academic university degrees would be considered equal to vocational qualifications from technical institutions.

The goal then is for individuals on different educational paths to receive comparable recognition for their achievements.

This also encourages society to value and respect a diverse range of skills and knowledge.

Promoting parity of esteem is often seen as a way to address the stigma that may be associated with certain types of education or career paths.

Parity of esteem helps to create a more inclusive and equitable education system.

Then it is a system that recognizes the value of various forms of learning.

11. The Umalusi CAT Policy Criteria: Shaping the Path for Seamless Credit Transfer

For the implementation of CAT within the General and Further Education and Training Qualifications Sub-framework (GFETQSF), specific criteria uphold the principles.

Transitioning seamlessly from one institution to another demands a robust framework governed by these criteria:

11.1 Laying the Foundation: Umalusi CAT Policy Criteria Overview

To ensure the principles are met, the following criteria form the bedrock of CAT implementation:

  • Research-based Quality Comparison
  • Transparency
  • Currency of Credit
  • Articulation by Design
  • Supplementary Work
  • Parity of Esteem
  • Appeals regarding CAT Decisions

11.2 Research-based Quality Comparison

  • Quality comparison rooted in research establishes relationships between qualifications. This gauges the degree of overlap or equivalence in related curricula.
  • It ensures the content’s similarity guarantees learners possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and background for further learning.
  • The research-based quality comparison considers the broader application and purpose of the learning involved.
  • Comparison of curriculum content is based on credible research methods aligning with the NQF Level Descriptors.

11.3 Transparency in CAT

  • Recognized providers must align institutional rules for CAT with Umalusi’s Policy, ensuring validity, fairness, reliability, and transparency.
  • Information about CAT fees, where applicable, must be easily accessible. They should be on the provider’s website and other accessible public spaces before student enrolment.

11.4 Articulation by Design

  • Credit transfer may be used within the same qualification or part-qualification across different institutions.
  • It can take place on the same or different NQF levels.
  • It can also be within the same sub-framework or across departments and institutions.
  • Articulation by design therefore encompasses possibilities within and between learning programs.

11.5 Supplementary Work for Unmet Requirements

  • When learners fall short of CAT requirements, recognized providers must offer practical advice for alternative learning pathways.
  • Supplementary work, determined fairly and transparently, may be prescribed for credit recognition. This is governed by formal agreements between entities.

11.6 Upholding Parity of Esteem: The Umalusi CAT Policy

Parity of esteem is a deeply ingrained principle. Promote diplomatic communication, constructive suggestions, and justification where articulation is challenged.

11.7 Currency of Credits

Credits transferred through CAT processes are confined to the qualification’s structure and rules of combination.

11.8 Appeals regarding CAT Decisions

  • An appeal process must be in place. Allow learners, institutions, or departments to contest credit transfer decisions when they want to.
  • The appeals procedure must be known to educational entities and learners.
  • Grounds for appeal must be clearly stated. All the entities involved in the appeal process must be recognized providers.
  • Contesting is important if you are a training provider. When you win an appeals process and your learner gains access to another institution, you have a marketing tale to tell!

12. The Umalusi CAT Policy Responsibilities: Fostering Effective Credit Accumulation and Transfer

A collaborative effort turns the wheels of the Credit Accumulation and Transfer (CAT) policy.

Now we outline the shared responsibilities among key stakeholders to ensure a seamless and transparent implementation of CAT within the General and Further Education and Training Qualifications Sub-framework (GFETQSF).

12.1 Collective Accountability

The orchestration of CAT policies and principles involves a consortium of entities, each shouldering distinct responsibilities:

  • DHET, DBE, SAQA, QCs, Institutions, and Providers: Jointly contribute to the development and implementation of CAT.
a. Responsibilities of the DBE and the DHET
  • Provide legislative and planning environments for CAT.
  • Integrate CAT principles in qualification design.
  • Oversee policy development and implementation at the institutional level.
b. Responsibilities of Umalusi
  • Align CAT policies within SAQA and other quality councils.
  • Ensure CAT considerations in qualification design within GFETQSF.
  • Develop, promote, and publish CAT regulations and guidelines.
  • Collaborate with other councils for effective CAT.
  • Determine maximum completion timelines for qualifications.
  • Monitor and collaborate with recognized entities for consistent CAT implementation.
  • Undertake systematic work on credit matrix development.
  • Initiate projects to enhance conceptual understanding and capacity in CAT.
  • Develop articulation links and progression pathways.
  • Promote collaborative curriculum development.
  • Provide mechanisms to address unfair CAT practices.
  • Collaborate in national monitoring and mediation processes.
  • Report annually to SAQA on GFETQSF CAT implementation.

c. Responsibilities of Assessment Bodies

  • Adhere to principles outlined in the CAT policy.
  • Develop and implement a CAT policy.
  • Report annually to Umalusi on GFETQSF CAT implementation.

d. Responsibilities of Education Institutions and Skills Development Providers

  • Adhere to CAT principles.
  • Develop and implement an institutional CAT policy aligned with relevant policies.
  • Demonstrate compliance through internal and external quality reviews.
  • Provide career advice services.
  • Establish fair appeal mechanisms.
  • Avoid unfair exclusionary practices related to CAT.
  • Address identified weaknesses during admission processes.
  • Assist learners in transition by providing necessary information.
  • Develop and maintain compatible information management systems.
  • Report annually to Umalusi on GFETQSF CAT implementation.

Advice for Businesses in Education and Training: Umalusi CAT Policy Alignment

1. Best Practices for Businesses: The Umalusi CAT Policy

For businesses involved in education and training services, adherence to the following principles is vital:

  • Acknowledge Umalusi’s Authority: Umalusi is the designated QC for General and Further Education and Training, ensuring alignment with legal mandates.
  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of amendments to Acts governing education, particularly Act 67 of 2008 and Act 58 of 2001, to remain compliant.
  • Adopt Umalusi’s Criteria: Align your policies with Umalusi’s criteria for assessment, recognition of prior learning, and credit accumulation and transfer within the GFETQSF.
  • Integration is Key: Align CAT Policy with Level Descriptors, SAQA’s RPL Policy, and Umalusi’s RPL Implementation Policy.
  • Supplementary Assessments: Conduct supplementary work or assessments when addressing gaps identified in CAT processes.
  • Credit Transfer Decision Making: Recognized education providers should align credit transfer decisions with the CAT Policy and Criteria, following thorough evaluations.
  • Understand NQF Dynamics: Grasp the distinctions between sub-frameworks and the different bodies.
  • Comprehend GFETQSF Structure: Familiarize yourself with the variety of qualifications within the GFETQSF and their standards.
  • Align with Umalusi’s Policy: Ensure your educational offerings align with Umalusi’s Policy for GFETQSF. Then always promote comparability and accessibility.
  • Prioritize Quality Assurance: Emphasize quality assurance in the delivery of GFETQSF qualifications to contribute to the overall improvement of the education system.

2. Quality and Compliance with the Umalusi CAT Policy

Businesses should prioritize:

  • Transparency: Maintain transparency in recognizing learning achievements.
  • International Comparability: Ensure qualifications meet both national and international criteria.
  • Quality Assurance: Uphold the acceptable quality of South African qualifications.

3. Umalusi CAT Policy Alignment

For businesses, aligning with the interconnected policies is essential:

  • Holistic Approach: Consider the Umalusi CAT Policy with related policies. Align them with those from SAQA and DHET for a comprehensive approach.
  • Continuous Compliance: Regularly review and update policies to align with evolving qualification landscapes and regulatory frameworks.
  • Institutional Alignment: Ensure your policies align with the requirements laid out in the Policy and Criteria. This will foster consistency in credit accumulation and transfer practices.

4. Incorporate Umalusi CAT Policy Principles into Business Practices

For businesses in education and training services, incorporating CAT principles is key:

  • Learner-Centric Approach: Prioritize learners’ articulation and lifelong learning pathways.
  • Policy Development: Align your RPL, CAT, and assessment policies with national guidelines set by SAQA and within the GFETQSF.
  • Contribute to NQF Objectives: Ensure that business practices actively contribute to facilitating access, and progression. Then address historical inequalities within education and training.
  • Transparent Communication: Establish open communication regarding credit transfer principles.
  • Research Collaboration: Engage in collaborative research to ensure a robust understanding of curriculum overlaps.
  • Fair Governance: Make governance structures fair, transparent, and consistently applied.
  • Appeal Mechanisms: Establish clear and accessible mechanisms for providers to appeal CAT decisions.

5. Facilitate Seamless Articulation: Strategies for Educational Institutions

For educational institutions, fostering articulation requires:

  • Comprehensive Credit Systems: Align CAT systems to qualification rules.
  • Research Collaboration: Engage in research to establish curriculum equivalences for smooth credit transfer.
  • Timely Completion Support: Provide support for timely qualification completion to adhere to stipulated time limits.
  • Equivalence Assessment: Establish a systematic approach for evaluating equivalence at the curriculum level.

6. Advice for Educational Institutions: Cross-Sub-framework Articulation

For educational institutions navigating cross-sub-framework articulation, key strategies include:

  • Robust Qualification Policies: Develop comprehensive qualification policies outlining access possibilities.
  • Formal Relationship Governance: Establish formal governance structures to regulate relationships between qualifications.
  • Research Collaboration: Engage in collaborative research to identify and highlight curriculum overlap.
  • Proactive Curriculum Alignment: Actively rework curricula and assessments to create seamless bridges between qualifications.

7. Advice for Edu-Businesses: Implementing Criteria with Finesse

For educational institutions, successful implementation of CAT criteria requires:

  • Robust Research Protocols: Develop research processes to ensure credible quality comparison.
  • Transparent Communication: Be upfront about institutional rules and CAT fees.
  • Flexible Articulation Frameworks: Establish flexibility for credit transfer within and between qualifications.
  • Guidance for Supplementary Work: Provide clear guidance and access to supplementary work for learners who don’t meet CAT requirements.

8. Advice to Skills Development Providers: Navigating CAT Responsibilities

  • Align Policies: Ensure institutional policies align with SAQA and other relevant policies.
  • Transparent Communication: Communicate appeal mechanisms and other information that is relevant to learners.
  • Continuous Evaluation: Audit internal CAT practices to maintain alignment with policies.
  • Data Compatibility: Align information management systems with national databases.
  • Collaboration: Collaborate with other entities to effectively promote CAT principles.

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