Irate students both past and present share their thoughts on the deregistration of Educor institutions

Students impacted from the current crisis at Damelin, City Varsity, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum College have voiced their concerns and panic at the news of their schools being deregistered. Photographer: Leon Lestrade/ Independent Newspapers.

Students impacted from the current crisis at Damelin, City Varsity, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum College have voiced their concerns and panic at the news of their schools being deregistered. Photographer: Leon Lestrade/ Independent Newspapers.

Published Mar 31, 2024


Students impacted by the current crisis at Damelin, City Varsity, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum College have voiced their concerns and panic at the news of their schools being deregistered.

Background and developments

Earlier this week the Department of Higher Education and Training cancelled the registration of four Educor institutions.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Professor Blade Nzimande said that the institutions failed to submit proof of their financial viability to the department.

Nzimande announced the deregistration of City Varsity, Damelin, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum College during a media briefing held in Pretoria on Tuesday.

“These cancellations were carried out in accordance with the 2016 Regulations for the Registration of Private Higher Education Institutions and the applicable sections of the Higher Education Act,” the ministry said.

The minister said that in addition to Educor not submitting their financial statements, it also misrepresented the amount of students that go to these institutions.

“Educor claims to have 50 000 learners in the system. This information is incorrect,” he said.

The 2022 annual report indicates that City Varsity has 540 students, Damelin has 4,012 students, Icesa City Campus has 145 learners, and Lyceum College has 8,399 students. The total number of people at the Educor institutions is 13,096.

Complaints received from students

Nzimande also noted that the department had received a number of complaints from students.

Students complained about the poor quality of teaching and learning and a lack of administrative support. The students also noted that the staff were not adequately qualified.

Nzimande also noted there were reports of corruption and bribery at the institutions.

“On 8 January 2024, our Directorate: Registration of Private Colleges wrote to these four Educor institutions and requested them to respond to a list of allegations of corruption against them. To date, they have not responded,” he added.

Irate students

A number of students still at these institutions have taken to social media in panic as they reel from the news of the deregistering.

TikTok user Saloshni1724 wrote, “what about those students who have paid in full and waiting to write exams”.

PhosaDP, another user wrote on the platform, “Ngi hurt my parents money. Let’s hope they will refund us our money asap. At least if they were transferring us to another institution it was gonna be better. But my energy ,data , transport money”.

Ntokozo Summerrose, another TikTok user also bemoaned the situation stating that she had paid her tuition for the whole semester.

Benjamin Ndounou, a first-year Damelin student told NewsNexus that his dreams of getting his diploma were fading. He said that he just wanted to study and that this has stopped him in his tracks.

Damelin student, Relebogile Thobejane who is studying IT told EWN that she is fearful for her academic future.

She said that she was shocked at the deregistration news and said she really felt like she had no options.

Thobejane is a second-year student and said that transferring to another college is not an option as she would be forced to do her first year again.

So what now? What students need to know

Nzimande said that Educor will be given a phase-out period in which to phase out pipeline students (learners currently in the Educor system).

“Educor would have to reimburse students where it is due,” the minister said as well.

He acknowledged that one of the major challenges for existing students is the transfer of credits considering the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process and Credit Accumulation Transfer policy. Another major issue is addressing those students who are repeating some modules or paying extra fees.

Minister Nzimande noted that specifically for City Varsity, the institution must cancel registration immediately and must not enrol new students on any year of the programme.

“City Varsity must phase out pipe-line students by 31 December 2023 and must submit a teach-out plan. The teach-out plan must include the number of learners in the pipeline and when learner records will be uploaded onto the National Learner’s Records Database,” he added.

“The teach-out plan must indicate that returning students who did not complete the programme within the stipulated time will not be admitted post 31 December 2023 and that they would need to complete their programme at another institution; and students must be informed accordingly”.

List of demands by government

The Educor leadership, now that the institutions have been deregistered, must do the following requirements to their students.

Educor must inform its students within 14 days from the date of the deregistration and must notify the students of the arrangements that will be made to safeguard their interests in terms of this regulation.

The leadership need to issue each enrolled student a copy of his or her academic transcript.

The Educor team must reimburse or compensate any enrolled student who has a lawful claim on the institution as a consequence of its ceasing to operate.Most importantly government noted that Educor has to also make adequate arrangements for affected students to complete their programmes at a comparable public or private institution.

Past students

IOL News spoke to Sonia De Almeida Watson, a former City Varsity sound recording engineering graduate who said she was deeply concerned about the late developments.

She was concerned that her diploma would not be seen in a great light after this incident and the deregistration of her institution.

“This is actually worrying. I don't use my diploma to work in this specific field but I do use it to get other jobs. I provide it when they ask me for proof on a higher education,” she explained.

The news by the department paints a blight on the diploma and how it will be viewed by businesses looking to employ people from City Varsity.

She wanted to maintain that as a student she worked extremely hard to obtain her diploma and it was by no means an easy feat.

“We had good teachers and we worked hard, it did not come easy and from my experience, we had a proper education,” she added.

Janine van Dyk, another past student told IOL News that she did her diploma in sound engineering also at City Varsity.

She said that the diploma did not help her much in getting a job after she finished her studies but rather the students and lecturers she met at City Varsity helped her secure her position in the film and sound industry.

She studied from 2010-2012 and noted that when she was at the institution she thought it was a credible place to study. She feels that over the years the institution has “gone downhill”.

When asked about the deregistration of City Varsity and the validity and credibility of her diploma she said that she was sad about this news.

But she was not surprised as over the years she had heard that the standard of education at City Varsity had declined.

She said that while she is unhappy about the deregistration, “standards need to be kept” and noted that she would rather have the institution close down than it be known as a college that did not have great students come out of it.

The engineer said that she was happy that there was a system in place by government to make sure that institutions are valid and up to scratch.

No need not worry

On Wednesday, in an interview with broadcaster eNCA, Makhapa Makhafola from the statutory body SAQA said graduates from the doomed institutions need not worry.

“When students are registered by any institution that is recognised in terms of certain programmes, their students are automatically captured in what we call the national learners’ database which is a responsibility of the South African Qualifications Authority. Any student that is registered or have achieved before the current challenges, they are on our (database) and they are recognised in terms of those achievements,” said Makhafola.

“The closing of an institution only applies when they are not supposed to operate or take any new students. Those who are in the pipeline, they are indeed on the national record database within SAQA which will be responsible to oversee.”

“Those who have achieved through these institutions, they are indeed captured and it is something that the students can verify with us regarding being registered, regarding particular qualifications,” he said.

Educor responds

Educor was approached for comment on this story and the issues raised by Minister Nzimande.

IOL News reached out to Leo Chetty, a board member and former chairman of Educor.

He noted the issue and referred this publication to its initial statement that was released on March 24.

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