ICB Courses at Unisa

For most people studying with Unisa means studying while you work, and studying from home. In the past you could study ICB courses at Unisa. This has fallen away, and Unisa no longer offers the ICB Courses. However, there are many home study colleges offering the ICB courses. So you can still study any of the ICB courses at an accredited home study provider.ICB Courses at Unisa

You can also consider studying accounting or bookkeeping courses at Unisa, where these courses are Unisa qualifications, and not ICB qualifications.

There are a number of things you should consider if you want to study one of the ICB courses via distance learning. Or if you want to study a bookkeeping or accounting course with Unisa. Here is a list of the key questions from prospective bookkeeping and accounting students, and my detailed answers:

  1. Comparing Unisa studies with ICB studies
  2. The difference between accounting courses and bookkeeping courses
  3. Bookkeeping and Accounting Courses at Unisa
    1. Financial Accounting Courses at Unisa
    2. Unisa Accounting Courses
    3. Unisa Bookkeeping Courses
    4. Unisa Course Fees
    5. Alternative Options
  4. Study a Diploma Course
    1. Unisa Bookkeeping Diploma
    2. ICB Diploma Courses
  5. Study a Higher Certificate
    1. Unisa Bookkeeping Higher Certificate
    2. ICB Bookkeeping Higher Certificates
  6. Short Courses
    1. Unisa Short Course in Pastel Accounting
    2. ICB Short Courses
  7. Post-Matric Qualifications at the ICB
  8. Distance Learning
  9. Financial Accounting Programme
  10. Office Administration Programme
  11. Business Management Programme
  12. Entrepreneurship Programme
  13. Public Sector Accounting Programme
  14. Study Materials and Textbooks
  15. Exams
  16. Register for an ICB course
  17. Extra help for Distance Learning Students
  18. Employment Opportunities
  19. Course Fees

Comparing Unisa studies with ICB studies

When you study at Unisa, you are studying at a University. And there are a number of differences between University qualifications and other qualifications. Unisa has its own entrance criteria, selection criteria, limits on student numbers, fees and selection and registration process.

Academic level of the qualification

Unisa qualifications academic level

At Unisa you will study towards a degree. That means a qualification three years higher than Matric. Usually that means your qualification is an NQF 7 level qualification. Matric is an NQF 4 level qualification, a post-matric Certificate is usually an NQF level 5 qualification, and a post-matric Diploma is usually an NQF level 6 qualification. Degrees are usually NQF 7 level qualifications.

ICB Qualifications academic levels

ICB qualifications start at NQF level 3, and goes up to NQF level 6. So you can enter one of the ICB programmes even if you do not have a matric certificate. And if you achieve the highest level ICB qualification, then you have a Diploma at NQF level 6. So you are just one level below a degree.

The ICB Diploma level qualifications you can aim for are:

National Diploma: Financial Accounting (NQF 6)

National Diploma: Technical Financial Accounting (NQF 5)

Diploma: Public Sector Accounting (NQF 5)

Diploma: Office Administration (NQF 6)

If you are aiming for an Unisa degree like the Bachelor of Accounting Sciences in Financial Accounting (NQF level 7 qualification), then you will have to adhere to their entrance requirements of a National Senior Certificate (Matric Certificate) with a Bachelor’s pass; with at least 50% in the language of teaching and at least 60% in Mathematics.

Entrance criteria

Unisa entrance criteria

Every University has its own entrance criteria. And the criteria is different for different degrees. So if you want to study a BComm degree at Unisa, you have to comply with different entrance criteria compared to when you want to study a BA degree at Unisa.

For most of the Unisa Finance degrees you will need to have:

  • Matric Bachelor’s pass. (Matric with University / Matriculation exemption.)
  • At least 50% in the language of teacher and learning (English)
  • At least 60% in Mathematics.
  • Access to a computer and the internet to apply. Unisa does not accept printed applications.

If you do not meet these requirements, you can apply for a lower NQF level qualification with Unisa.

The entrance criteria for ICB courses

You can enter any one of the ICB programmes at the NQF 3 level. That means you can start their courses with a Grade 9 or Standard 7 school pass.

The ICB also recognise other training you have done, your work experience and your age, as factors to consider when you apply for entry.

You need to be able to understand the study material, which is in English. The ICB courses start at a very basic level, so as to make them accessible to students from many different educational backgrounds.

Often students who left school, can do the ICB courses when they have gained some work experience. Most of the ICB home study students are working adults, who have missed out on the opportunity to finish school, and go on to campus based education.

Selection criteria

How Unisa select students

Unisa already has nearly 300 000 applications for 2017. To apply for 2017 you need to check if they are still open for applications.

Unisa has a limited number of openings for students, so you are not assured of a place for next year. Even if you adhere to the academic requirements for the degree you want to study, Unisa might still not have a place for you. They expect to get more applications than the number of students they can accept.

So Unisa looks at your academic record, how many seats they have available for the degree you want to study, as well as your score on the point scoring system.

Unisa uses a point scoring system to decide which students to accept. So you must meet the academic requirements, and also score enough points in the points score system.

In the point score system, Unisa will look at things like your final Grade 12 marks, what school you attended, gender, socio-economic group, as well as your race. Unisa uses the point score system to address historic disadvantages without sacrificing their quality standards.

Selection criteria for ICB students

The ICB has a number of distance learning course providers. For these students there are five exam sessions in 2017. Many of these students are home study and part time study students. Usually students who fulfill the academic entrance criteria, will get a place with one of the distance education providers.

Students who do not fulfill the academic requirements, can still apply. The ICB can grant you entrance based on your age; work experience and other training courses you have done.

The ICB academic entry requirements are grade 9 (standard 7). The ICB programmes all start at NQF level 3; meaning that even if you never completed matric, you will still be able to cope with the work.

Application and registration process

Unisa application process

Unisa has a three-step process for you to become a student. You need to make sure you understand this process.

  1. Apply for a space at Unisa
  2. If your application was accepted, you must Register
  3. If your Registration is properly processed, you get Notified of your Registration by Unisa

Unisa does not accept printed application forms. So you must have access to a computer and to the internet, so that you can apply online.

You can apply online at Unisa regional offices. Where they have computers available for prospective students to make their applications. If you go to a regional centre, you need to have all your documents already scanned and available electronically. Because Unisa does not provider scanners at their offices.

So make sure you know what documents you need to submit electronically with your application. And get those scanned so you can attach them to your online application.

Take this link to get all the application details from Unisa: Application for admission Process

Take this link to start your application process: Apply for admission to study at Unisa

If you previously registered with Unisa, then you will have your own MyLife email address from Unisa. You must make sure this email address is working, and that you check it every day. Unisa will send the results of your application to this email address.

Unisa will in form all successful applicants, and also inform them for which qualification they were accepted. You can apply for up to two qualifications.

Unis also informs you if your application is unsuccessful. Remember, one of the biggest reasons that prospective students are not accepted, is when they do not pay the application fees.

ICB application and registration process

To start studying one of the ICB courses you need to take the following steps:

  • Apply to one of the course providers
  • Complete your registration with the course provider and pay your registration fee and further study fees
  • Register with the ICB for your exam – you can choose from five exam sessions in 2017
  • You can choose to write one exam at a time, or register for three or four exams
  • Pay your exam fees
  • Receive your portfolio of evidence from the ICB once you have registered for the exam
  • Complete your portfolio of evidence before the exam, and take it to the exam session with you
  • Hand in your exam and your portfolio of evidence at the end of your exam

You can get the ICB Application and exam documents here: ICB Application Forms.

Limits on student numbers

Unisa student limits

Unisa has limited space on each programme they offer. So many people who want to study with them, will not be accepted to study with Unisa next year.

If you want to give yourself the best chance of being accepted you need the following:

  • Apply for a place for next year. Make sure you apply when applications are open. There are application periods, meaning certain times of the year which you must apply. The rest of the year, applications are closed.
  • Choose two qualifications you want to study. Apply for both of them. So that you have a chance on a different qualification if there is no space for you on the course that is your first choice.
  • Make sure you have all the documents you need to apply. And make sure you have them scanned. You will have to submit them electronically.
  • Get access to a computer and the internet. You can only apply online. You cannot submit a printed application form.
  • Give all the relevant information Unisa uses in their point score system. They are trying to address the inequalities of the past. So your gender, race and socio-economic situation can count in your favour.

ICB student number limits

The ICB does not place a limit on student numbers. If you want to study on a campus, at a classroom provider, then there will be a limit to the number of seats in the classes.

When you choose distance learning, you will find a course provider that has space for you. Don’t wait till the last minute. Make sure you apply early, to give yourself the best chance.


Unisa fees

Unisa does not accept cash. So you have to pay them online.

You must pay the unisa application fee when you apply. This fee is R100 for your application, and it is non-refundable. If you applied in the past, and paid an application fee at that time, then you do not have to pay the application fee again.

Your course fees will depend on what course you study. So Unisa will inform you of the course fees when you Register.

ICB Fees

When you register with the ICB, you need to keep in mind the following different fees:

  • Course provider fees – fees you pay the the college where you study
  • ICB student membership yearly fees
  • Exam fees

Here is a link to a detailed article on all the fees you need to understand. ICB Registration Fees 2017.


Unisa exams

Unis has two exam sessions every year. Depending on the degree you are studying, and the subjects you selected, you will have different exam dates. You will get your exam dates from Unisa once you have started studying your degree.

ICB exams

The ICB offers five exam sessions for home study students in 2017.

You will find the complete list of ICB exam dates and subjects here. ICB Assessment Dates 2017.

Success rates

Student success at Unisa

From research done at Unisa, the success rates of students after seven years of study, is that less than 10% of students have completed their degrees. Distance learning is not an easy option. And Unisa struggles with the huge demands put on it. So the students who succeed are the ones who are good at keeping themselves going, without much outside help.

Unfortunately, distance learning students often need more help than classroom students. They are students who did not do well at school, and who did not get many opportunities in life.

With Unisa, if you fail a subject, you need to re-register and pay again. Then you study that subject again, write the exam again, and in this way work towards completing your degree.

Student success with the ICB

The ICB accredits and ensures the quality of training provided by their training providers. They set the exams, and they set the syllabus. They approve the study materials. And in this way the ICB ensures that students get the best chance possible.

The ICB also inspects its accredited providers. And they even do surprise inspections. With this vigorous work done to ensure quality education, and to ensure students get very good support, study materials, and qualified lecturers – pass rates are high.

In the world of work, you will find that employers are happy to pay for their staff to study with the ICB. Because they know that their staff will learn real skills they can use in the workplace, and they know that the students have a very good chance of passing.

Students who struggle, can rewrite any exam, so you get more than once chance to pass and complete your course.

Recognition for your studies in the first and second years

Unisa Degrees

At Unisa you cannot get a certificate or diploma for your first and second year studies – even if you pass them. A university degree is a single programme with a single exit point. So either you get your degree, or you get nothing.

ICB programme of study

On the ICB programme, you get recognition for every level of the programme you pass. So as you pass a level, you will get a certificate to recognise your success. This means that if you never complete the whole programme, you still have a certificate for every level to put on your wall. Your college might also give you a subject completion for every subject you complete.

The plan is that you don’t walk away empty-handed once you have passed a subject or a level in the programme.

The difference between accounting courses and bookkeeping courses

Bookkeeping and accounting courses at Unisa

Unisa does not offer bookkeeping courses. The academic study at degree level is called Accounting. So you will find different Unisa accounting courses, but no bookkeeping qualifications.

Bookkeeping courses and accounting courses with the ICB

At the ICB bookkeeping courses refer the the lower levels of the programme. As you continue to the higher levels, the qualification names change to “Accounting”.

So “bookkeeping” is simply the introductory levels, and “accounting” is the higher levels.

When you work as a bookkeeper, you are mostly busy with the accurate recording of a company’s transactions and finances. As you get promoted, you might start working on the analysis and reporting on those numbers. Then you are an accountant.

Bookkeeping and Accounting Courses at Unisa

At Unisa you will not find any degrees on bookkeeping. Unisa only offer degrees that involves accounting.

With the ICB you can start at the bookkeeping level and progress up the ladder to the accounting qualifications at NQF level 6.

Financial Accounting Courses at Unisa

If you are interested in Financial Accounting at Unisa, your best option would be to contact the Unisa Department of Financial Governance studies here: Unisa Department of Financial Governance. They will be able to inform you about all their programmes and degrees.

If you aim to become a Chartered Accountant, then this is the right place to start your studies.

Unisa Accounting Courses

The Unisa Department of Management Accounting is the place to contact if you are interested in studying accounting, to move towards Management Accounting. If you want to become a Management Accountant, then this is the place to start.

Unisa Bookkeeping Courses

You cannot study a bookkeeping qualification at Unisa. However, you can do a number of fully accredited bookkeeping qualifications with the ICB. Skills Academy offers the whole range of ICB Bookkeeping courses.

Unisa Course Fees

Unisa course fees are determined by the specific degree you want to study. And the subjects you choose. You can also choose to study faster or more slowly. So if you take on fewer subjects per year, then your cost for that year is lower.

Unisa study fees for 2017 is not available yet. You need to apply to Unisa, and if your application is successful, you will be informed of the study fees.

Application (online) with Unisa costs R100, and is non-refundable.

Alternative Options

If you cannot get into Unisa, then you should consider studying one of the ICB courses. Below is a list of all the available ICB courses.

Financial Accounting Programmes

ICB Financial Accounting

Foundation level

  • National Certificate: Bookkeeping

Intermediate level

  • FET Certificate: Bookkeeping

Upper intermediate level

  • National Diploma: Technical Financial Accounting

Advanced level

  • National Diploma: Financial Accounting

Office Administration Programmes

ICB Office Administration

Foundation level

  • Certificate: Office Administration

Intermediate level

  • Higher Certificate: Office Administration

Advanced level

  • Diploma: Office Administration

Business Management Programmes

ICB Business Management

Foundation level

  • National Certificate: Small Business Financial Management

Intermediate level

  • Higher Certificate: Office Administration

Advanced level

  • National Diploma: Financial Accounting

Entrepreneurship Programmes

ICB Entrepreneurship

Foundation level

  • National Certificate: Small Business Financial Management

Intermediate level

  • Higher Certificate: Office Administration

Advanced level

  • National Diploma: Financial Accounting

Public Sector Accounting Programmes

ICB Public Sector Accounting

Foundation level

  • National Certificate: Public Sector Accounting

Intermediate level

  • Diploma: Public Sector Accounting

Advanced level

  • National Diploma: Financial Accounting

Study Materials and Textbooks

When you study from home with Skills Academy, all your textbooks and study notes are included in your course fees. The distance learning study materials are approved and prescribed by the ICB, so you know that you are getting the right study materials to pass your ICB exams.


The ICB has many exam centres across South Africa. If you are not close enough to an exam centre, then you can ask for private invigilation. However, this is usually an expensive option.

Here is a detailed explanation of the exam dates and processes: Skills Academy ICB Exam Registration Process and Dates.

Here is a list of the ICB exam centres: https://www.icb.org.za/exams/exam-centres.html

Study ICB outside South Africa


There is six classroom providers of ICB courses in Namibia. You can also study with any of the distance learning colleges if you live in Namibia. Remember to check if the prices are different for Namibia. Usually the couriering costs are a bit more… so Namibian students pay extra to cover that.


There is one accredited classroom provider of ICB courses in Swaziland. Swazi citizens can also study with any of the South African distance learning colleges.

ICB exams

Last Updated: November 14th, 2016

Call Now Button