Registration of Higher Education Institutions and Programmes


Registration is the process of granting a higher education institution (HEI) the authority to operate as such. For a programme, registration means that the institution is permitted to offer that specific programme. To qualify for registration, a higher education institution must meet the minimum standards set by the Council.

Operating as an unregistered higher education institution is illegal.


Registration is guided by section 19 of the NCHE Act which reads:

No person other than a public higher education institution or organ of state shall provide higher education unless that person is registered or provisionally registered as a private higher education institution in terms of this act.

An application for registration of a private higher education institution shall be made to the Council by submitting to Chief Executive Officer in the prescribed form and be accompanied by the prescribed fee and such other further information and documentation in support of the application as the Council may request.

The council shall evaluate and verify the suitability of an application in terms of the minimum standards for higher education set by the Council.

Section 20 lists the following seven conditions:

  • that the institution is a body corporate;
  • that the institution or the facilities to be provided by that institution are suitable and meet the minimum standards for higher education set by the Council.
  • that the institution is financially capable of satisfying its obligations to prospective students.
  • that the teaching staff to be employed by the institution is sufficiently qualified.
  • that the higher education to be provided by the institution is of a quality that will enable the institution to provide a standard of education no less than the minimum standards by the Council.
  • that the institution shall ensure that no person is discriminated against on account of race, ethnic origin, political affiliation or opinion, religion, sex, or Human Immune Deficiency Virus or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome status, gender, physical disability or other status in respect of:
  • i) the admission of students
  • ii) the recruitment of staff; and
  • that the establishment of a higher education institution is in the interest of higher education in Malawi.


According to section 20 (3), provisional registration authorises an institution to:

  • set up a governing body for the proposed institution;
  • commence or continue to develop physical facilities and mobilize financial and human resources;
  • commence or continue to assemble academic resources; and publicise the programmes of instruction expected to be offered at the institution.

Provisional registration is valid for one-year cycle from the date it is issued or as the Council may determine [section 20 (6)].

Students shall not be admitted while a higher education institution holds a provisional certificate [section 20 (4)].


  • Upon carrying out an inspection of the institution, final registration is granted to a provisionally registered private higher education institution
  • Recommendation is sent to the Minister
  • Charter is granted if the Minister is satisfied that the establishment of the institution will further the development of higher education in Malawi
  • A Charter can be amended or revoked.


A Charter can be revoked if the Council is satisfied that:

  • a private higher education institution has failed to carry out its objects; or has breached its Charter in any material respect; or is not carrying out its functions properly; and
  • that it is in the interest of higher education in Malawi generally for the Charter of a higher education institution concerned to be revoked.

The procedure would involve engaging the institution and approval of the Minister responsible for higher education.


Existing public institutions are covered in section 36 which reads:

  1. Any public or private higher education institution in existence at the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to be duly registered with the Council.
  2. A higher education institution shall be deemed to be in existence if it –

(a) has been established by an Act of Parliament;

(b) holds a Charter granted by the Minister; or

(c) is otherwise registered with the Ministry responsible for higher education.


  • Submission and Initial Review of the Application for Provisional Registration
  • Consideration by Quality Assurance Committee(QAC) and Council
  • Award of Provisional Certification/Registration
  • Application for Final Registration
  • Institutional Review (Expert peer review)
  • Consideration of the assessment report by QAC
  • Decision by Council: Final Registration
  • Approval of final registration and grant of Charter by the Minister.

Contact Us

Area 47 Msokera Street
Next to Chitukuko Petroda Filling Station
Private Bag B371
Lilongwe Malawi

Tel: +265 1 755 884

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between registration and accreditation?

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Q: Can institutions that have failed accreditation continue offering higher education programs, or do you close them?

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