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Understanding SAQA Credits

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Understanding SAQA Credits

In this short video we look at understanding Unit Standards or Qualification Credits from the South African Quality Authority.

Links used in this video clip.

SAQA Website:



See our video online here:

NQF Credits

SAQA uses a credit system based on the idea that one credit equals 10 notional hours of learning, motivated in context in each case.

Quick Calculation

1 Credit = 10 Notional Hours

‘Notional hours of learning’ refers to the learning time that it would take an average learner to meet the outcomes defined. It includes concepts such as:

  • contact time
  • time spent in structured learning in the workplace
  • individual learning
  • assessment

OBE (Outcome Based Education also known as Common Core Learning) is also based on 30% Theoretical Learning and 70% Practical Learning.

  • 30% Theoretical Learning by means of self study or classroom or other means.
  • 70% Practical Learning means in the workplace, practical experience doing the function or job.

So now we can take this a bit further.

  1. 1 credit – 10 notional hours.
  2.  30% of the 10 notional hours = theoretical learning (3 hours recommended)
  3. 70% of the 10 notional hours = practical experience (7 hours recommended)

This means that for every 1 credit we recommend 3 hours of theoretical learning and 7 hours of practical experience. This is however only a recommendation and in practice we normally link 5 credits to a 1 day training programme, 10 credits to a two day programme and 15 credits to a three day programme.

Now looking at a qualification.

Now the smallest qualification we get consist out of 120 credits.


a) 120 credits x 10 (part of the calculation) = 1200 notional learning hours.
b) We also know that:

  • We normally train 8 hours a day.
  • There is 5 working days in a week.
  • There is average 4 weeks in a month.

From the above we can see that the smallest qualification is recommended to be delivered/completed over a 10 months period. (3 months for theoretical learning and 7 months for practical experience).

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