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 Registering a tertiary institution


 Before you can offer tertiary education in South Africa, you must first register as a private higher education institution with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).

​​The purpose of registration is to ensure that:

  • Private institutions offer quality education
  • The public is protected against unscrupulous and exploitative operators
  • The student obtains qualifications that are aligned with the Higher Education Qualifications Framework (HEQF) and registered on the NQF
  • The education system meets the goals of transforming South Africa in accordance with government policy and legislation
  • Private institutions comply with the Higher Education Act, 1997 (Act 101 of 1997)

The following are not required to register with the DHET:

  • A school offering further education and training programmes under the South African Schools Act
  • An organ of state that provides education and training

Institutions that offer short courses, non-NQF programmes or parts of qualifications, are not affected by registration in terms of the FET Act (Act 16 of 2006).

The programmes of private institutions must be registered with the DHET, accredited by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and registered on the NQF by the South African Qualifications Authority (Saqa). The programmes must be recognised nationally as well as internationally.

At least 18 months before your institution wishes to start operating you must submit an application for registration to the Registrar of Private Higher Education institutions. An Application for Conversion must be submitted by the date determined by the Registrar (Director-General).

The process

1. Complete the prescribed application forms.
2. Submit the application form to the Registrar of Private Higher Education institutions.
3. Submit the following documents with the application form:

  • Audited annual financial statements or audited financial forecasts
  • A business plan
  • Surety agreement
  • Company registration documents
  • Occupational health and safety compliance audit reports
  • Business registration certificate
  • Declaration on application for accreditation
  • Undertaking on institutional capacity
  • Declaration on monitoring and evaluation
  • Inter-institutional agreements, if any
  • Student prospectus, calendar or brochure
  • Enrolment forms, student contracts and rules and regulations.

4. Foreign applicants must also submit the following:

  • Declaration on equality of qualifications
  • Proof of recognition in the country of origin
  • Proof of accreditation in the country of origin
  • An accreditation certificate from the HEQC and registration from Saqa
  • Signed declaration that the institution will not discriminate in any way
  • In the case of changes, the details that must be changed
  • Declaration on monitoring and evaluation, as well as an undertaking on the official letterhead, dated and signed

5. Pay the prescribed non-refundable fee of R500.

First-time registration can take up to anywhere from 6 to 18 months before the institution is accredited to open for registration. For an amendment it can take up to 12 months before the amendment comes into effect and for conversion, the Registrar will determine the time frame.

Forms to complete

  • Application for registration as a Private Higher Education Institution, form APX -01
  • Application for Amendment, form APX-02
  • Application for Conversion, form APX-03

These forms are available at the Department of Higher Education and Training’s website. The department has also created an information booklet around how to get your college registered.

Contact the Department of Higher Education and Training on tel: 080 087 2222 or at

Source: The South African Government Services website:




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