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Beware ‘fly-by-night’ colleges: How to tell if the school you are signing up for is legit

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As schools prepare to open, higher education minister Blade Nzimande has warned pupils and parents to be careful of illegal or “fly-by-night” colleges offering qualifications not recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (Saqa).

Higher education minister Blade Nzimande says illegal colleges offer compromised qualifications which are not recognised for employment purposes or further studying. File photo.

Image: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Nzimande said “fly-by-night” colleges are not registered as institutions of learning with the correct sector education and training authorities, the department or other relevant bodies.

“These institutions lure and mislead future students into believing these colleges offer qualifications that are recognised by Saqa,” said Nzimande.

“The illegal colleges offer compromised qualifications which are not recognised for employment purposes or further studying.”

According to Nzimande, the department has been successful in shutting down some illegal operators.

“However, while the department may be hard at work to eliminate unregistered colleges, there are many students who continue to register and are unlawfully granted fake qualifications.

“The number of colleges operating illegally has decreased tremendously over the years. The decrease can be attributed to our monitoring awareness campaigns and our collaboration with print and electronic media,” said Nzimande.

He said the department is working with law enforcement agencies to close down illegal colleges, and advised students who want to enrol at private colleges to check the registration status with the department through its toll-free number 0800-872-222.

Pupils can also log on to the  department’s website where the Register of Private Colleges is published and updated regularly.

TimesLIVE

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