While we often think of passing your matric as the only way into tertiary education in South Africa, that’s far from the reality. Many students obtain matric-equivalent qualifications from different education boards or even countries and want to further their studies at a university in South Africa. Alternatively, many students (especially older students) may leave with a matric that doesn’t qualify them for university entrance but subsequently obtain certificates or diplomas that ‘upgrade’ their school-leaving certificate to something in line with university requirements.
The matric exemption system exists to help these candidates ‘convert’ the academic qualifications they have to something that will allow them to attend higher tertiary education. Today, we are unpacking everything you need to know about the matric exemption process.
What Is Matric Exemption?
A matric exemption is given to learners who have achieved non-standard matric with Bachelor’s Pass-equivalent academic certifications. As we mentioned above, this typically means one of the following circumstances:
- You obtained a matric-equivalent certificate at the end of schooling in a different country or under a different education system, like the Cambridge GCSEs.
- You have either no matric or a standard matric without Bachelor’s Degree pass levels but have other academic certifications or work history which would count toward ‘improving’ the pass enough to make you eligible for tertiary education at university.
- You are a mature student (over 45), and the life circumstances and qualifications you present suggest you are academically capable of keeping up with the tertiary education program you are applying for, regardless of school-level qualifications.
What Are The Different Types Of Matric Exemption Certificates?
There are two main types of matric exemption certificates: conditional, and complete.
If you receive a complete matric exemption, this means that the Matriculation Board of South Africa have examined the educational and vocational qualifications you presented (and in some circumstances, also medical exemptions and other matters) and has decided that you are a fit candidate to continue into tertiary education in South Africa. These certificates do not expire.
Conditional exemption certificates are broken down into further categories:
- Mature age exemptions are offered to students of at least 23 years of age and will apply for the duration of the study program you are applying for, plus two years.
- Foreign conditional certifications last for the same length of time.
- Ordinary conditional certificates last for one year and will need to be renewed until you meet the exemption requirements.
- Senate’s discretionary exemption certificates are issued to students who didn’t have a type of matric or matric-equivalent certificate to enter the program but who subsequently completed a recognized foundation/access program to ‘feed’ into their program of choice. This lasts for three years.
Conditional certificates can often be converted to complete certificates once their specific benchmarks have been achieved.
What Is The Difference Between Matric Exemption And Matric Not Exempt?
Matric exemption means you have achieved the benchmarks needed to study at a university in South Africa, even if you have non-standard circumstances or academic qualifications. It means you have a ‘Bachelor’s Pass’ matric equivalent.
Matric Not Exempt means you do not qualify to attend a South African University but have qualifications or circumstances equivalent to other matric categories.
How Do I Convert My Matric Certificate To Exemption?
You will convert your matric certificate and other academic, situational, and vocational qualifications you have to an exemption certificate by applying to the Matriculation Board of South Africa for a matric exemption certificate. Most universities in South Africa will be able to apply on your behalf if you wish.
You will have to fill in the relevant M30 form and pay for the exemption process. You will, of course, need to provide correctly certified documents proving the qualifications you do hold, as well as other life circumstances (medical/age-related) that could apply. The board will then examine your case and decide if your matric certificate can be converted to an exemption.
How Long Does It Take To Get An Exemption Certificate?
It typically takes between 6 and 8 weeks to hear back from the Matriculation Board of South Africa about your exemption certificate. It is possible to get a ‘soft’ acceptance in the form of a letter which you can present to your university of choice to enable you to continue with the application much faster than this, however.
What Is The Age Exemption For A Matric Certificate?
If you are over the age of 23 and have relevant NQF level 4 and 5 certificates or a matric certificate on the higher grade/standard grade system used until 2008, you can apply for an age exemption on your matric certificate. There are certain subject pass requirements you must meet for this exemption, which you can find on the Matriculation Board’s website. Alternatively, candidates over 45 may be able to apply for a mature age exception regardless of their school-leaving performance based on maturity and life/vocational experience.
The matric exemption is a necessary step to being accepted to university for your first-degree course in South Africa, so be sure to stay on top of your application.
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