Up until the late 18th century the practice of medicine was unregulated and not very consistent or scientific. In fact there was a name for people who sold fake cures for all sorts of sicknesses and who pretended to have medical skills they didn’t actually possess. They were called “quacks” or “charlatans”. It was only towards the late 18th century that proper medical schools were established and the practice became regulated.
If you want to study medicine today you are required to study an accredited medical qualification, do a practical internship before going into independent practice. All medical practitioners anywhere in the world are regulated and registered with a professional body which set the standards for practice. The same is true for many professions not just the medical profession.
In some professions, such as medicine, it is compulsory to be registered and accredited to practice, whereas in other professions it is not compulsory but may be an advantage and allow you to command a higher salary. An employer may prefer to appoint someone who is accredited with a professional body who has a professional designation, or title. A qualified Chartered Accountant, for example can use the designation CA(SA) if registered with the South African Institute of Accountants. The designation is a stamp of approval, it serves as a good indication that the person has the skills and will abide by the strict code of conduct for that profession. Accreditation enables employers to filter those individuals who have obtained a degree from an accredited institution from those who have not.
So when choosing where to study, make sure that you choose the field that best suits your interests, but ensure that the training institution is accredited with the right professional body and has recognition within the industry you will be working. Make sure that the university or college where you choose to study is accredited and that the qualification you are studying is also accredited.
Accredited by who?
The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accreditation is simply the recognition that a degree or a course meets a certain standards of quality. In other words you can have confidence that the course you are studying is credible and will hold weight when you apply for a job one day.
Simply having an accreditation is not enough, ask who accredits the institution or the qualification you are studying?
- Is it the accreditation body reputable?
- Is it a national body or an international body which is widely recognised within the industry that you are going to work in?
Some are government linked some are private, some are international some are local? Check that the institution you are applying to is accredited with the Department of Higher Education:
- Is it registered with the Council on Higher Education (CHE), or
- If you are studying at a public or private school or TVET College then make sure that the institution is registered with Umalusi.
All qualifications or part qualifications are registered by SAQA, (South African Qualifications Authority). To find accredited public and private further and higher education institutions, visit, www.gostudy.net/sa/institutions
In addition, when you are finding out about where to study, check that the institution is recognised by asking who is it recognized by. It is important that industry recognised what you are going to study and where you are studying as these will be your employers once you qualify?
- What connections does this university or college have with industry?
- What percentage of students get jobs with this qualification?
- Can I study further with this qualification?
Is my qualification internationally recognized?
Each country has its own body for recognizing qualifications and which ones they accept and don’t accept. In general, if your study at an accredited university or college in South Africa, your qualification should have some recognition overseas. Every university have what is known as a clearing house to approve international qualifications. This is basically a system the university uses to check if you are likely to cope with the programme you are applying for. If you come out of matric the university overseas will check the status of your qualification.
The international ranking of the university you intend studying is determined by two main world ranking bodies, Times Higher and QS World University rankings. Both rank 3 South African Universities in the top 500 of Universities in the world, namely, UCT, Stellenbosch and Wits. Not only do they rank the universities overall but they also rank the faculty or department. The UCT law faculty, for example, is ranked in the top 150 law faculties in the world.
In some professions, namely accounting and engineering profession, there are mutual agreements to recognise each other’s quality assurance systems. In other words you can more than likely study an undergraduate degree in one country and in general this will be recognised in other countries.
Let’s have a look at some professions which require accreditation. Read up in each of the professions below and check out what the requirements to qualify and become professionals within these careers.
If you practise in any field of medicine then you are obliged to register with the either, The Health Professions Council of South Africa, or if it is an alternative medicine then with The Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa(AHPCSA).
Chiropractor (Registration is with the The Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA)
Homeopath (Registration is with the The Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA)
Medical Doctor & specialisations
Nurse & specialisations
Podiatrist (Registration is with the The Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA)
When choosing a career in the finance or accounting take a look at the various occupations available and the different career pathways into these careers. These pathways are often linked to membership and accreditation with a professional body for each opportunity. In some cases, professional body membership is not a prerequisite to practise in a financial occupation, but in other cases it is a requirement. When planning your career it is important to take note of the registration and other legal requirements in certain of the pathways. In the section to follow we explain the typical learning paths that lead to the different professional qualifications. All these qualifications can be obtained by combining theoretical and practical work.
The engineering degree BEng degree takes a minimum of 4-year can be followed at the UP, Wits, UKZN, US, UCT, UJ, NMMU, UNISA and NWU. The Diploma is a 3-year N.Dip. and can be obtained at a university of technology and is presented by the TUT, DUT, CUT and CPUT. After completing a degree, engineers work. The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) is the statutory body that regulates the engineering professions in South Africa. Engineers may only use the designation Professional Engineer if they are registered with ECSA. In order to retain registration as a Professional Engineer the annual registration fee should be paid to ECSA and Engineers should comply with the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) requirements of the Council.
An LLB Law Degree is required to practice law in South Africa. The degree is must be taken at a CHE accredited law school. After doing an LLB law degree (4 years) you will be required to serve as a candidate attorney under the guidance of a practicing attorney. The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) represents the Attorney’s profession in South Africa. The LSSA has constituent members, four of which are the statutory provincial law societies: the Cape Law Society; the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society; the Law Society of the Free State; and the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. The provincial law societies are the regulatory and disciplinary bodies for attorneys. It is compulsory for attorneys to register with their provincial law society. Candidate attorneys must also register their internship (articles of clerkship or service contract) with their provincial law society. Practicing attorneys are also required by law to have a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate. These are issued each year by the Attorneys Fidelity Fund via the provincial law societies. Your first certificate will only be issued after you have completed compulsory practice management training. Your continued registration as attorney with your provincial law society will depend on the payment of annual fees and on your compliance with all the regulations of your profession.