Higher Education deregisters four private institutions

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The Department of Higher Education and Training has cancelled the registration of four Educor institutions after failing to submit proof of their financial viability to the department.

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, announced the deregistration of City Varsity (Pty) Ltd, Damelin (Pty) Ltd, Icesa City Campus (Pty) Ltd and Lyceum College (Pty) Ltd during a media briefing held in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Nzimande said the four private institutions failed to comply with the requirements of the 2016 Regulations for the Registration of Private Higher Education Institutions and the applicable sections of the Higher Education Act.

The new regulations outline the application process, requirements for registration, responsibility of an institution and the appeals procedure that must be followed by individuals or entities that wish to register a private higher education institution.

Further to this, the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) is responsible for the accreditation of higher education programmes.

Nzimande said the Educor institutions failed to submit their annual financial statements and tax clearance certificates for the 2021 and 2022 years as proof of their financial viability. 

According to the Minister, the four institutions were required to lodge an appeal with him on or before 26 September 2023.

“They then requested an extension to 28 February 2024, and are now seeking a further extension. In addition to failing to submit evidence of their financial viability to the department, the four Educor brands can be deemed as dysfunctional and this is mainly measured against the daily complaints and grievances received from students, most of which remain unresolved,” Nzimande said.

The complaints include poor quality of teaching and learning; lack of proper administrative support; poorly qualified staff; corruption and bribery; lack of response for requests for refunds and lack of professionalism.

The students also complained about exploitation of poor students; non-payment of staff salaries; and under-payment of staff salaries.  

“These complaints extend to the other brands such as INTEC College (Pty) Ltd and Damelin Correspondence College (Pty) Ltd, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Quality Council of Trades and Occupations (QCTO). The QCTO has not been able to restore stability within these two institutions and students continue to be exploited.

“These complaints also extend to the offering of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) accredited programmes. The SETAs have not been able to restore stability with the Educor institutions and students continue to be exploited,” Nzimande said.

He said the Higher Education Quality Committee has withdrawn the accreditation of some programmes for City Varsity (Pty) Ltd, Damelin (Pty) Ltd and Lyceum College (Pty) Ltd.

The Minister also accused the institutions of misrepresenting student enrolment, by submitting incorrect information, which claimed to have 50 000 learners in the system.

The 2022 annual reports indicated a total of 13 096 students enrolled; City Varsity with 540, Damelin with 4 012, Icesa with 145, and Lyceum with 8 399 enrolled students.

Nzimande announced that some of the institutions’ sites have closed suddenly after failing to pay the rent, staff salaries and/or the municipality. 

These institutions include City Varsity (Pty) Ltd at Braamfontein, which closed because staff withdrew their services for non-payment of salaries and students were left stranded; and Damelin (Pty) Ltd sites at Braamfontein, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, East London, which were closed suddenly as they were in arrears with the municipality and rental, leaving students stranded.

The only site of Lyceum College (Pty) Ltd was closed due to an eviction order by the landlord for failure to pay the rent. 

“On 08 January 2024, our Directorate: Registration of Private Colleges wrote to these four Educor institutions and requested them to respond to a list of allegations of corruption against them. To date, they have not responded,” Nzimande said.

As a way forward, Nzimande said Educor will be given a period in which to phase out pipeline students and Educor would have to reimburse students where it is due.

“The latest numbers of enrolled students as per the 2022 annual report is 13 096, not 50 000, as Educor claims; one challenge for students is the transfer of credits considering the RPL [Recognition of Prior Learning] and Credit Accumulation Transfer policy; and another challenge could be students repeating some modules or paying extra fees,” Nzimande said. – SAnews.gov.za