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Be aware of bogus colleges

Written by Allison Cooper

The start of the new academic year has again seen bogus, fly-by-night higher education colleges and institutions trying to lure unsuspecting students.

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, has warned students and their parents to be careful of illegal or fly-by-night colleges as they are not registered as institutions of learning with the correct Sector Education and Training Authorities, the Department of Higher Education and Training and other relevant bodies.

“These institutions lure and mislead prospective students into believing that they offer qualifications that are recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority,” Minister Nzimande explained.

“They offer compromised qualifications, which are not recognised for employment purposes or for further studying,” he added.

Unregistered institutions take advantage of recognised institutions’ stringent entrance requirements and allow students who do not meet the criteria to enrol.

They are also known to change premises often, to avoid being traced. The Minister confirmed that the department has been successful in shutting down many of these illegal operators, but said that there are still many students who continue to register and are unlawfully granted fake qualifications.

“The number of illegally operating colleges has decreased tremendously over the years due to our monitoring awareness campaigns and our collaboration with print and electronic media,” Minister Nzimande said.

He added that the department is working closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure that these colleges are closed down.

Ask for registration evidence

Minister Nzimande urged prospective students to ask higher education institutions for evidence that they and their programmes are registered and accredited. If they are registered, they will be able to provide a certificate of registration and a registration number, both issued by the department.

 The Minister added that before students enrol, they should make sure that the institution offers learning programmes and qualifications at the level at which they want to qualify. In some instances, they are only accredited for certain programmes or their registration is still pending or provisional, he explained.

Students should also not pay any registration or other fees until they have confirmed that the institution is properly registered and accredited.

Students can check a college or institution’s registration status with the department, by calling its toll-free number 0800 872 222. They can also view the Register of Private Colleges on the department’s website www.dhet.gov.za/resources/registers.