Tertiary students’ future hangs in balance

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande said they would be assisting affected students on the way forward.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande said they would be assisting affected students on the way forward.

Published Mar 27, 2024


Students attending four private colleges which are under the Educor group are facing an uncertain future after the Department of Higher Education and Training cancelled their registration.

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said in a press briefing on Tuesday that the department had cancelled the registration of four Educor private colleges: CityVarsity; Damelin, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum College for non-compliance issues and other challenges.

Nzimande said the cancellation came as the institutions had failed to comply with the 2016 Regulations for the Registration of Private Higher Education Institutions and the applicable sections of the Higher Education Act.

“These four institutions failed to fulfil the requirements for registration contemplated in Section 57(2)(b) of the act, and to discharge their responsibilities as required by Chapter 6 of the Regulations.

“In particular, the Educor institutions have failed to submit their annual financial statements and the tax clearance certificates for the 2021 and 2022 years as proof of their financial viability. We are now moving into the 2023 cycle.”

Nzimande added the four Educor institutions were required to lodge an appeal with the minister on or before September 26 last year.

“They then requested an extension to February 28, 2024, and are now seeking a further extension. In addition to failing to submit evidence of their financial viability to the department, the four Educor brands can be deemed as dysfunctional and this is mainly measured against the daily complaints and grievances received from students, most of which remain unresolved.”

Nzimande said Educor misrepresented the number of students it had enrolled.

“Educor (Pty) Ltd claims to have 50 000 learners in the system. This information is incorrect since the 2022 student enrolment indicates that 13 096 students enrolled at Educor institutions.”

He said the department had received complaints from students, which included poor quality of teaching and learning, lack of proper administrative support, poorly qualified staff, corruption and bribery, lack of response for requests for refunds, lack of professionalism and exploitation of poor students.

He said staff complaints included the non-payment or underpayment of salaries.

Nzimande added that on January 8 this year, the Directorate: Registration of Private Colleges wrote to the four Educor institutions and requested them to respond to a list of allegations against them.

“To date, they have not responded.”

Nzimande said they would be assisting affected students on the way forward.

“Educor will be given a phase-out period in which to phase out pipeline students. Educor would have to reimburse students where it is due. Students must be informed accordingly. It is incumbent upon Educor and its institutions to find alternative institutions for the students to complete their studies, either public or private.”

Nomsa Wandile Makhubela, a student at one of the affected institutions, said she was concerned about the situation and worried about the money she had already paid.

“I am worried because I have paid fees and was supposed to write exams soon. I have been trying to contact the finance office to find out what the situation is. I still haven’t received any feedback.”

Tshediso Scott Moahloli, who has a relative studying at one of the affected colleges, said he was worried about his relative and other students caught in the issue.

“It is really worrying, what will happen to the students?”

Asive Dlanjwa, the spokesperson for the South African Union of Students (Saus), said although he sympathised with the situation of the students, it was necessary for the department to take action.

“Institutions have an obligation to fulfil the regulations required of them.

Educor has failed to do that and they also have failed to supply their financial records. If that happens they can’t continue with business as usual. Action needed to be taken.”

Dlanjwa said students had been complaining to Saus.

“They have complained that they don’t get their academic records, there are campuses that have closed without notice, and they have complained about issues about student portal access not working. We believe something needs to be done.”

Educor was contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of deadline on Tuesday.

The Mercury