Cape Town - The Higher Education Department is considering the prohibition of private colleges that seek to offer oversupplied courses or those that did not contribute to the economy.
That was the word from the department’s director-general, Nkosinathi Sishi, on Wednesday when he briefed the higher education portfolio committee on the proliferation of illegal colleges.
“While the department continues to work with the state law enforcement agencies to expedite the investigation and prosecution of illegally operating private colleges, it is also considering the prohibition of registration of private colleges that seek to offer oversupplied programmes and/or any other programmes that do not contribute to the economic development trajectory of the country and reduce the high unemployment,” he said.
The department has been cracking down on illegal private colleges.
Higher Education Deputy Minister Buti Manamela said the department had been working with the police and the Basic Education Department to clamp down on bogus colleges since 2011.
“Over 40 illegal operators were arrested which included US-based operators using the logo of Department of Higher Education and Training as a way of enticing students.
“We have laid charges with the FBI and published a list of colleges, local and international, on our website as means to warn the public about alleged unscrupulous providers and their modus operandi,” Manamela said.
Sishi said all legitimate private colleges were accredited by Umalusi to offer courses leading to a National Certificate: Vocational qualification.
He said the colleges were required to register with the department in line with the Continuing Education and Training Act and its regulations as well as other related laws.
“In terms of the CET Act and the regulations, any private college that offers continuing education and training qualifications without registration with the department is operating illegally and is in contravention of the CET Act and the regulations cited above.”
Sishi said the names of the private colleges were entered on the register published on the department’s website.
The register was updated regularly for the public to check the registration status of private colleges.
Sishi said the department was supporting the private college sector to ensure it complied and that the letter and spirit of the law was followed.
He also said one of the responsibilities of the department was to inform the public and students about the registration procedures for private colleges as well as their registration status.
“In order to fulfil this function, the department embarked on a public awareness campaign on unregistered colleges in all the provinces.”
Sishi said it was through the public awareness campaign that the public alerted the department about qualifications offered by illegal private colleges.
Sishi said the department was working with the SAPS by reporting unregistered private colleges to the police for investigation and prosecution.
“Since February 2020 to date, two private colleges have been closed down in Rustenburg in North West province.”
Sishi also said a directorate in the department dealing with private colleges had drafted four affidavits regarding registration status of entities that were operating illegally in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West.
“The affidavits provide a basis for evidence in court regarding whether the private colleges operate legally or not,” he said.