Over the past few years, South Africa has seen an increase in the number of illegal colleges and universities (i.e. fake schools). Imagine studying so hard to obtain your matric certificate, entering an institution and once again, studying so hard – only to find out that it’s not a registered college. One of the biggest traps you can find yourself facing is not receiving a qualification after all that effort, or worst-case scenario is receiving an uncredited qualification.
Looking for a college can be a very stressful time. It can also be a very exciting one once you do find a college that you can enroll in. It is however important that you verify the college, whether big or small. Beware of the institutions promise you several degrees in one year or something that feels to be good true. Additionally, if they promise to provide education on behalf of an international institution, then it’s probably a big red flag to watch out for.
The desperation to secure a qualification should never cloud rationality in ensuring that checks are done to prevent being a victim of fly-by-night institutions. Please do this before you enroll in any course.
These are the procedures that you can follow and keep in mind when verifying fake institutions:
- All private institutions of higher educations must register with the DHET (Department of Higher Education). Therefore, they are legally required to have a certificate to accredit the institution
- All qualifications provided by the institution must be registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). SAQA is the body set up through the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to regulate qualifications in South Africa. You can either ask the institution for the SAQA identity number, alternatively, you can go to the SAQA website and search for the information yourself.
- All higher education qualification should also be registered with the Higher Education Quality Committee of the Council on Higher Education. If they are not accredited, they will not appear on their register
- Moreover, you can check on the register of private higher education institutions issued by the Department of Education (click here). This list is regularly checked and updated on a regular basis.
While the government can work hard to create awareness around the importance of not only avoiding but reporting these fly-by-night institutions, it is still your responsibility to ensure that you do not find yourself on the receiving end of unlawful qualifications. Therefore, you must always be alert to prevent wasting your time and money.