South African Government

Let's grow South Africa together

Register private higher education institution

What you should do
How long does it take
How much does it cost
Forms to complete
Who to contact



About registering a private tertiary or higher education institution

Do you wish to offer tertiary (higher) education in South Africa? You must first register as a private higher education institution with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to have the legal authority to offer higher education programmes.

Private higher education institutions offer the same National Qualifications Framework (NQF) levels (Levels 5 to 10) as public universities or universities of technology.

The purpose of registration is to ensure that:

  • private institutions offer quality education
  • the public is protected against unscrupulous and exploitative operators
  • the student obtains qualifications that are aligned with the Higher Education Qualifications Framework (HEQF) and registered on the NQF
  • the education system meets the goals of transforming South Africa in accordance with government policy and legislation
  • private institutions comply with the Higher Education Act, 1997 (Act 101 of 1997).

The programmes of private institutions must be registered with the DHET, accredited by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and registered on the NQF by the South African Qualifications Authority (Saqa). The programmes must be recognised nationally as well as internationally.

At least 18 months before your institution wishes to operate you must submit an application for registration to the Registrar of Private Higher Education institutions. An Application for Conversion must be submitted by the date determined by the Registrar (Director-General).

What you should do

  1. Complete the prescribed application form.
  2. Submit the application form to the Registrar of Private Higher Education institutions.
  3. Submit the following documents with the application form:
    • audited annual financial statements or audited financial forecasts
    • business plan
    • surety agreement
    • company registration documents
    • occupational health and safety compliance audit reports
    • business registration certificate
    • declaration on application for accreditation
    • undertaking on institutional capacity
    • declaration on monitoring and evaluation
    • inter-institutional agreements, if any
    • student prospectus, calendar or brochure
    • enrolment forms, student contracts and rules and regulations.
  4. Foreign applicants must submit the following:
    • declaration on equality of qualifications
    • proof of recognition in the country of origin
    • proof of accreditation in the country of origin
    • an accreditation certificate from the HEQC and registration from Saqa
    • signed declaration that the institution will not discriminate in any way
    • in the case of changes, the details that must be changed
    • declaration on monitoring and evaluation, as well as an undertaking on the official letterhead, dated and signed.
  5. Pay the prescribed fee.

Note: Please contact the Registrar about any changes you wish to make during the application process.

How long does it take

  • First-time registration: 18 months before the institution opens for registration.
  • For amendment: 12 months before the amendment comes into effect.
  • For conversion: as determined by the Registrar.

How much does it cost


Forms to complete

Forms are available at the Department of Higher Education and Training:

  • Application for registration as a Private Higher Education Institution, form APX -01
  • Application for Amendment, form APX-02 
  •  Application for Conversion, form APX-03

Who to contact


National Office

Tel: 012 312 5253/5320
Fax: 012 324 6343
City/town: Pretoria
Province: Gauteng
Physical address: Department of Education: Directorate: Private Higher Education Institutions, Sol Plaatje House, 123 Schoeman Street, Pretoria
Postal address: Private Bag X895, Pretoria, 0001