Recent changes in the qualifications necessary to obtain an MBA have raised the standards required of prospective applicants by obligating them to complete the equivalent of a four-year bachelor's degree. Although South Africa's current MBA are accredited internationally and recognised as being on par with MBAs offered globally, the revision of the degree is a technical issue designed to upwardly align the MBA with the recently modified framework levels of the South African National Qualifications Framework.

"South African MBA degrees have always been recognised as a Master’s level qualification internationally," says Dr Millard Arnold Executive Director of SABSA, "that’s why

hundreds of MBA students from leading international schools from around the world receive credit for courses taken at South African business schools every year and why South African MBA students are globally accepted in industry and academia.”


Whilst the change is the most significant revision of the admissions requirements for the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in nearly a decade, it came as a consequence of the Higher Education Qualification Sub-Framework’s (HEQSF) revision of the previous 8 level framework to the current 10 level framework. The revision required higher education institutions to modify their existing qualifications and programmes in order to be in compliance.


Through SABSA’s extensive consultations over the past few years, the education authorities agreed that the level of the MBA would be classified as an NQF level 9 qualifications, in line with the changes made to the NQF framework. Business schools throughout South Africa were required to re-apply for MBA accreditation with the Council on Higher Education (CHE) in order to ensure their programmes met the necessary requirements set by the NQF level 9,” noted Dr Arnold.


"This change means that students intent on studying towards the new NQF level 9 MBA, will now be required to be in possession of an NQF level 8 qualification i.e. an honours degree, a postgraduate diploma or equivalent qualification prior to gaining admission to the MBA degree programme," Dr. Arnold stated.


Consequently some business schools are offering a post graduate diploma from 2016 for students without such an honours or post graduate qualification. It is important that HR Professionals at corporates who financially support MBA candidates take cognisance of these changes in their study policies,” Dr Arnold emphasised.


It is important to note that this does not change the stature or value of an MBA degree that students commenced prior to 2016. In line with the requirements of the CHE, all students who commenced their MBA prior to 2016 were admitted to the correct NQF level based on the original 8 level framework applicable at that time. MBA degrees that commenced before 2016 will still carry the same value and relevance by industry (local and international) and educational institutions,” explains Dr Arnold.


The updated framework is a requirement of the Department of Higher Education. Each business school can choose how it will implement these changes for the benefit of its students. All schools have applied to have their MBA accredited at the new NQF level 9.


Dr Arnold concludes by saying that in spite of the complexity these changes have added to admission requirements, the MBA remains the most popular post graduate business degree in South Africa.




Anne Wilson, Manager, South African Business Schools Association

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Issued by: Rothko PR on behalf of UCT GSB
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