Bogus education rife

Bogus education rife. Picture: Gallo Images

The government has named and shamed bogus colleges robbing and issuing fake qualifications to desperate students.

Thousands of students are labouring in vain in class, as it has emerged they have enrolled at bogus universities and colleges across the country. The Department of Higher Education has released a list of 53 institutions of higher learning which are not registered with the ministry, rendering whatever learning that takes place there null and void.

Estimates are that about 40000 students could have fallen into this trap. According to department spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana, some students were after quick qualifications while some were lured by various forms of advertisements.

“There is a group of students who want to do quick courses and find jobs, so they opt not to go for courses that run for three years. That’s exactly how they fall into this trap,” he said.

Two fictitious American universities offering two-week degree programmes – Barkley University and Fargo University – lure South African matriculants through the internet. The institutions use the name and logo of the department to hoodwink potential students into thinking they are legitimate.

“The few students who enrolled at Barkley say they mistook it for Berkeley, a university in California (US),” a source said. Jonathan Ndlovu, a human resources practitioner, said students who attained qualifications from unaccredited institutions were at risk of failing to get jobs.

“Big companies in South Africa engage companies like Managed Integrity Evaluation to do qualification checks on potential employees. So in most cases they would pick up fake qualifications,” Ndlovu said. Of these phony colleges, 29 are based in Gauteng while four are in Cape Town and three in Mpumalanga. In the North West province the School of Design has been fingered as illegitimate while in KZN, Style Design College also fell into that class.

As many as 21 of the 53 institutions listed offer theological qualifications. “We have opened more than 35 cases and we are investigating a number of these colleges across the country,” Nkwanyana said. Students at Calvary Life College, based in Pretoria, fork out a cool R34 700 per 120 credits.

A dodgy digital marketing training provider, the Brand School, runs a seven-day diploma at the cost of R13 500. The government has passed laws to make it compulsory for private education institutions to register as private colleges and private higher education institutions. No private education institutions may operate or register students unless they are registered with the department.

Nkwanyana said they were working closely with the police and other lawenforcement agencies to close down unregistered private institutions. The department said its mandate was to ensure all tertiary institutions operated within the law.

-Mthokozisi Dube