Why the silence on bogus colleges?


Private higher education institutions must stand up against bogus colleges.

The silence of the private colleges operating within the law, which are operating in full compliance with government, has been loudly deafening in our fight against bogus colleges.

The fight that we have started as the department of higher education and training last year against these Colleges, should not be seen as a government fight in protection of the vulnerable citizens who get hoodwinked by these institutions only, but it also a fight to clean up the system of private education providers that has been dirtied by these rogue elements within the sector. This fight is meant to ensure that the private higher education institutions, and the private education system as a whole restores its integrity, trustworthiness and image.

The more prospective students cannot differentiate between a legitimate and a bogus college in Braamfontein in Johannesburg and Berea in Durban or anywhere else that affects the whole private higher education sector. As it stands now, and as we continue to intensify our work in exposing, criminally charging and shutting down these Colleges across the country, is the more people are starting to take a dim view on the reputation of private higher education provision as a whole.

The more society (as it begins to) wakes up to this ravaging scourge, is the more collective punishment to the entire private higher education sector would be unavoidable. And it is not our duty to plead their case as legitimate except themselves on their education business.

We have called for the society as a whole to own up to this clean-up campaign. But where are the private higher education institution’s providers in this campaign? As government we expect them to stand up and join the clean up by saying “not in our name” collectively. The silence so far, the act of retreat to the shell like a snail, is so palpable and by so doing, they are in dereliction of duty. From where we are sitting as government, this is a serious indictment to these legitimate providers and it tarnish their image even more.

Last year alone, we have opened about 52 criminal cases against bogus colleges across the country. Those cases are before court except one where a 6 year conviction has been secured already. Last month, in January, we have captured 11 bogus colleges in Johannesburg CBD alone. We are investigating more than 100 and with the publicity associated with this campaign, weekly we are receiving calls and e-mails submitting names of Colleges in various towns and cities for checks and verifications. We are receiving no less than 25 requests weekly and with my team we are working on all of them.

Bogus colleges are a serious cancer to our higher education system and its integrity. Their existence devalues our higher education and training system and they are a major contributor to the growing numbers in the last 10 or 15 years of people in possession of fake qualifications.

The seriousness of huge numbers of South Africans in possessions of fake qualifications is getting into sharper focus as we have started verification processes in government through SAQA and Minister Nzimande has encouraged all companies to do so. In government, shortlisting is no more complete without SAQA having to do verification process of all qualifications from applicants as a necessary condition for recruitment in government.

Our message to the private higher education institutions, please stand up and work with the Department to expose the charlatans in the sector posing themselves as part of your club, whilst robbing our people and in the process, making mockery of the private education in this country. Some employers already, are uneasy to recruit graduates who are not the product of the public Universities and TVET Colleges because of this issue. That is a sad development.

Private education providers are not doing themselves a favour by standing idle, quietly and in observation as we unleash the offensive. The sector has been highly hijacked by the crooks coming here to undermine our laws and the curricula quality outputs at the altar of profits. Fly-by-nights have no place in South Africa. To legitimate providers I say, your policy of non-interference is at your expense and indeed, a seed of your undoing.

Khaye Nkwanyana is the Spokesperson for the Ministry for Higher Education and Training.

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