Dear Students: Be on high alert for fake private colleges!

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Abandoned building. Source: Stanislav Trifonov (Flickr)
100 shining Stars Inside Education

Thabo Mohlala

With matrics results just released, most learners will be heading to various tertiary institutions to further their studies. Some will go to universities, others will go to TVETs and some will apply for spaces at private colleges. At this time of the year, there is a sudden mushrooming of private institutions claiming to offer quality academic programmes.

However, most of these institutions cut corners and do not follow the correct legal procedures, chief of which is to get a valid accreditation from specialised bodies such as the Council on Higher Education (CHE), registration with the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) and registration with the Department.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has consistently issued regular warnings to prospective students, urging them to be vigilant and ensure they ascertain the status of institutions before they can register with them. In some instances the department has even carried out physical visits to institutions that operated illegally.

Countless unsuspecting young people have had their academic futures derailed after being duped by unscrupulous owners of illegal institutions clearly set up to fleece them of their parents’ hard-earned cash.

Towards the end of 2017, the DHET published the names of four institutions that operated fraudulently. These are a Durban-based Oval International Computer Education (Pty) Ltd, Illovo Private College and Johannesburg City College, both operating from Johannesburg and Kingdom Fire Christian College based in Stellenbosch.

The DHET also highlighted an emerging trend of fake online universities where bogus institutions operate under the names of legitimate ones. According to the DHET’s own investigations, they discovered that there was a fraudulent University of the People using the acronym UoP, planning to market itself is South Africa. They cloned the real University of the People which uses the acronym UoPeople and does not operate in South Africa. UoPeople is a “duly registered and accredited institution by the relevant US authorities”. 

If the name of the institution that you would like to register with does not appear on the list below, then you know there is a problem.

Here is a list of accredited colleges. DHET also has this register of accredited private colleges 

This article has been amended to provide clarity on the fraudulent institution posing as the real and reputable University of the People based in the U.S. 

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