Higher Education minister was correct to close down institutions that did not comply with the law: Pedley

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Prof Blade Nzimande. Picture: Jacques Naude/Independent Newspapers

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Prof Blade Nzimande. Picture: Jacques Naude/Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 30, 2024


Professor Jon Foster Pedley said if private institutions were to do a good job, they needed to comply with the law and make sure their financial reserves were on point.

Pedley said these institutions failed to get their academic oversight and uphold standards that were required by the law in order to make sure they conserve their students.

“Unfortunately, what happened to these organisations is they seem not to have done that and they have not seemed to have submitted their financial exams, and we have heard a lot of stories about some of them who were unable to pay staff.

“They take a lot of money from the students and do not get them what they need. This has left a lot of students in a very difficult position as this is not typical in the private higher education sector because it is a good, thriving sector,” the professor exclaimed.

Pedley said it was the responsibility of the holding companies to make sure that oversight was carried out. He continued to say holding companies in these institutions were not doing a great job at making sure that staff were doing what they were expected.

“It appears that the holding companies haven’t put the right staff in place and they haven’t monitored nor insisted people supply what they have to do, and the department was right to close them down if they haven’t complied with the law,” he added.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande closed institutions that failed to submit their annual financial statements and tax clearance certificates for the 2021 and 2022 years as proof of their financial viability.

According to the Minister, the four institutions, namely, Damelin, CityVarsity, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum College, were required to lodge an appeal with him on or before September 26, last year.

In a Government Gazette published on March 22, the Department announced the deregistration of the Educor-owned institutions because the group did not provide the required audited financial statements for the annual reports of 2021 and 2022 – a contravention of the Higher Education Act.

This is not the first time that Educor has failed to submit its financial reports. In 2022, the private education supplier was reprimanded and threatened that it would be deregistered after failing to submit its 2020 financial records.

“In addition to failing to submit evidence of their financial viability to the department, the four Educor brands can be deemed as dysfunctional… mainly measured against the daily complaints and grievances received from students, most of which remain unresolved,” said Nzimande in a press conference this past Tuesday.

However, speaking to Independent Media, the Education Investment Corporation Limited (Educor) group said it was surprised by the minister’s decision to deregister four of its colleges.

The group’s spokesperson, Surina Baijnath, said she was taken aback by the department’s decision to deregister them as teaching and learning institutions.

“It has come to our attention that a notice, dated July 2023, was published by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) despite ongoing communication and engagement between our organisation and various senior individuals within the department,” Baijnath said.

Saturday Star

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