Verify institutions of higher learning before applying

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Matric results have been released and with the Free State being the top-performing matric class in the country, local learners who are planning to further their studies at institutions of higher learning are making their way to their campuses of choice, either online or in-person.

For years, articles regarding unregistered and illegal institutions have been published in the media, warning prospective students to do their research when applying.

Locally, the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs (Destea) has issued a warning against these “fly-by-night” institutions of higher learning. According to the department, accredited institutions of higher learning and places of employment do not acknowledge any qualification obtained from unregistered institutions.

Timothy Radikeledi from the Consumer Protection Office at Destea’s Customer Care Unit, said that consumers have rights and it is important for them to understand their rights to enforce them. “Before one registers at any institution or sign any contract/agreement with an educational type of institution, ensure that you have confirmed whether the institution is registered/accredited to offer this qualification, and that it is accredited by the relevant accreditation body and the validity of the skills offered by them; e.g. South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), Skills Education Training Authorities (SETA), and the National Qualification Framework (NQF),” he advised.

Furthermore, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, has warned parents, guardians, and students to remain cautious as these institutions can “lure and mislead future students into believing that these colleges offer qualifications that are recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)”.

The Free State Police have also requested that parents and students watch out for bogus accommodation offers as well, especially those that are only available over the phone and online in addition to institutions that exist by name and have no campuses or classes.

“The police in the Free State are pleading with parents or guardians not to deposit any cash into any account before they physically visited the institution or saw the available accommodation. This is to avoid being scammed. Cases of parents who were defrauded were registered in previous years at police stations in and around the province,” according to the police.

It is encouraged to verify both the accommodation and the institution beforehand.

“Let us stop bogus institutions and people who defraud guardians or parents of their education savings. If you suspect something dodgy, it probably is a fraud. Verify with the relevant body so you can save yourself from being scammed of your hard-earned cash,” Free State Provincial Commissioner, Lt.Gen. Baile Motswenyane, concluded.

Contact the Department of Higher Education and Training at 0800-872-222 to verify if the institution is legitimate and registered.

Gypseenia Lion