What is a bridging course?
A bridging course also known as a higher certificate is a course that serves as a foundation for learners who did not meet the requirements of a diploma or a degree course. Bridging courses act as a bridge for learners to reach their dream careers. The bridging courses duration 12 months. Completing the course will allow learners to enroll in diploma/degree courses. These bridging courses are called higher certificates.
Who can do bridging courses?
Learners who passed matric with admission to higher certificate can do these courses. Learners who do not meet university requirements can also enroll in bridging courses. For example, a learner passed with admission to a bachelor's degree in matric but does not meet the requirements to do BA in law, that learner will be forced to apply for a higher certificate in law. The learner will do that course for a year. During the year the learner will apply for BA in law using the mid results of the course he is doing which is higher certificate in law.
What to do after completing the bridging course?
After completing your bridging course you need to apply for the actual course, a degree/diploma. Don't wait until you complete the course to apply. While you are busy with the higher certificate course you need to apply for the degree/ diploma course for the following year because waiting to complete the course will lead to another gap year the following year.
Can I look for a job with a bridging course?
In most cases no. Most bridging courses curriculum are a foundation and with a higher certificate, one cannot guarantee that they have acquired enough knowledge and skills to actually practice what they have learned. Bridging courses prepare you for the university content and curriculum of that particular course. Some higher certificates such as Dental assisting and ABET can be used to look for a job. One thing to keep in mind is that higher certificate is level 4 which is the lowest according to the national qualification framework. Therefore even the payment won't be enough and you will be working with people who have degrees and Ph.D. for example in the dental industry so one way or the other you will be motivated to further your studies.
Which universities offer bridging courses?
You have to do thorough research to know which universities offer higher certificates. University of South Africa is popular for offering bridging courses to all faculties but that's not the only varsity, other universities do offer bridging courses in few faculties so you really have to analyse the prospectus to see which courses you can bridge.
Other universities that have higher certificate courses:
TUT: Faculty of Art, science, engineering and health sciences.
UP: Faculty of Education
CPUT: Faculty of Health sciences and Information Technology
SPU: Faculty of Humanities
MUT: Faculty of Engineering
CUT: Faculty of Health sciences
Does nsfas fund bridging/higher certificates courses?
There was once a trend on social media with claims that higher certificate courses will no longer be funded by NSFAS but that was never confirmed if it's true or not. The minister of higher education has not confirmed the claims. So the simple answer is yes higher certificate courses are funded by nsfas unless the mister announces otherwise.
Are bridging courses the same as higher certificate?
Yes, bridging courses and higher certificates are the same things. When looking for bridging courses on prospectus you need to search for higher certificates because you won't find a course for example written bridging course of LAW but instead, you will find higher certificate in Law
Will a higher certificate allow me to do any diploma/degree course?
No. You should keep in mind that you can't do a higher certificate in Law and then apply for a bachelor of education it doesn't work like that. You do a higher certificate that is in line with the career you want to pursue. I will post another article exploring degree courses that have bridging/ higher certificate courses.
Do all diploma/degree courses have bridging courses?
No. When you discover that the career you want to pursue doesn't have a bridging course you need to consider applying for courses that you qualify for.
Do I need to meet requirements to be accepted for bridging courses?
Yes! Yes! Yes!. Applying for bridging courses does not automatically mean you will be accepted. Like a normal degree/diploma course, higher certificates have requirements and failure to meet those requirements will lead to your application being rejected.
Is it possible to get rejected for diploma/degree courses after completing your higher certificate ?
Yes. Doing a bridging course does not automatically mean that you will be accepted for the actual diploma/degree course. You really need to work hard and prove to the university that you are capable and ready for the diploma/degree course. Usually what the university does is that they set certain requirements to say for example you should pass all your modules with 80% or you should pass a particular module with 70% and failure to meet those requirements will lead you not being accepted for diploma/ degree course even though you have successfully completed your higher certificate or bridging course. Each University has different standards that they put in place. At the beginning of the year when starting your higher certificate make sure you know exactly what is required of you and you reach the target they have set for you to continue with your degree or diploma
Can I apply for degree/diploma courses at another institution where I didn't do my higher certificate?
The truth is universities are not the same and their standards are not the same. Some are ranked high and some are ranked low. As much as they have the same courses or programmes but the content and curriculum are not the same. To avoid disappointments apply for a degree/diploma course where you have successfully completed your higher certificate. For example, if you have completed your higher certificate at Unisa apply or do your degree/diploma course at Unisa
What if I don't meet the requirements for higher certificate?
Well, that's the story for another day.
Click on the following link for a detailed list of higher certificate courses offered in South African Universities.