Pretoria - As the new academic year begins and prospective students rush to apply to higher education institutions, they often fall prey to unregistered private colleges.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande has warned students and parents not to become victims of these illegal institutions.
“These institutions lure and mislead future students into believing that they offer qualifications that are recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority,” said Nzimande.
It was difficult to pick them out at first glance, he said, as bogus colleges look as professional as those on the department’s database.
He said students often realised when its too late that they had been scammed, more especially after they had paid registration and tuition fees.
“Others find out the truth when it is time to get their exam results or qualifications, while some only discover the truth when they enter into the corporate world,” he said.
It is only then they find out their qualification is not accredited and the institution is not registered.
Nzimande said: “At the end they do not have a qualification and have lost a lot of money believing that they are bettering their future.”
Bogus colleges are those not registered as institutions of learning with the correct Sector Education and Training Authorities, department or other relevant bodies.
Nzimande warned prospective students to check if a college had been registered before they register.
Before enrolling they should ask for evidence that the institution and its programmes are registered. This evidence is the certificate of registration and the registration number issued by the department.
They should also make sure that the institution offers learning programmes and qualifications at the level at which they want to qualify.
The department said claims by an institution that it was offering internationally recognised higher education programmes, while not registered to operate in South Africa, were misleading.
According to the department, there are public TVET colleges and universities that offer programmes that are accredited, and it is very important to do thorough research on the institution and the qualification/programme that they offer.
Students who want to enrol at private colleges are advised to check the registration status of such colleges with the department through its toll-free number 0800 872 222. Or they can visit the department’s website to check which colleges are registered.