Levi Schooling, an Expatriate Solution Specialist at Xpatweb and ex SAQA employee of 7 years, provided much needed insight into the innerworkings of SAQA and the reason behind the recent delays.
Whilst those in the Immigration and Mobility services industry utilise SAQA solely for the verification and evaluation of foreign qualifications, Levi provided insight into the full scope of SAQA’s mandate and services. Levi explained that verifications and evaluations of foreign qualifications was not the main focus of SAQA, as they were mandated with the following duties-
- The maintenance of the National Learner Records Database
- Regulation of institutions and qualifications issued in South Africa
- Verification of South African Qualifications
- Advisory services as to Learning trajectory and career advice
- The registration of professional bodies
- The evaluation of foreign qualifications
The Evaluation of Foreign Qualifications
Levi went on to explain the process of how Foreign Qualifications were evaluated and stressed the mammoth task that the evaluators were tasked with. He explained that the evaluations would need to satisfy the following requirements, to be successful –
- That the qualifications are authentic
- That the Institution offering the qualifications was an accredited institution at the time of Enrolment and Award
- That the institution was accredited to offer the qualification at the time of Enrolment and Award
- That the qualifications are comparable to a South African qualification according to level descriptors indicated by the Policy and Criteria for the Evaluation of Foreign qualifications
Current Affairs at SAQA
Levi discussed that whilst in the past, the evaluation processes ran smoothly, with very few applications taking longer than 6 weeks, he conceded that that was no longer the case. He explained that the lengthy processing times could be attributed to the recent restructuring that occurred shortly after the level 5 lockdown.
Restructuring at SAQA
While tariffs are charged for the evaluation of foreign qualifications, National treasury still allocates funds for SAQA’s other functions. Treasury informed SAQA of implemented budget cuts which continued until the middle point of the Covid years, when it became evident that in order to meet the budget, a large-scale restructuring would be required.
Essentially this meant that whilst SAQA had a staff compliment of over 100 personnel before the restructuring, the proposed restructuring would leave 30 personnel once completed. It was further explained, that out of those 30 employees, a mere 8 of them were assigned to foreign qualification evaluations.
One can now clearly see that the delay and lengthy processing times for SAQA evaluations is directly attributed to the low staff compliment, However, these have intermittently been supplemented by contract workers to assist in compensating for the shortfall. This delay in the processing of the evaluations has had huge impact on visa applications, specifically those looking to apply for work visas.
A way forward
As has been long proposed, SAQA is currently engaging third parties for automation of internal processes to further accommodate for the staffing at SAQA. Levi explained that Xpatweb fosters positive relationships with various stakeholders in the industry, with SAQA being one of these stakeholders. Collaboration is key to smooth legislative processes required for business and to better serve our clients.