Private colleges exposed for non-compliance

Monday, February 19, 2018

Over 10 private colleges have been exposed for non-compliance with the relevant legislation in the private higher learning sector.

The Department of Higher Education and Training recently completed a successful three-week long nationwide inspection and public awareness campaign aimed at enforcing compliance with the relevant legislation in the private higher learning sector.

The campaign, which was conducted in partnership with local law enforcement authorities in seven cities, uncovered a prevalence of fraudulent transgressions by private college operators in major cities including Rustenburg, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit, Polokwane and Bloemfontein.

The department said during the campaign, over 10 private colleges were cited for contravening the Continuing Education and Training Act of 2006 (as amended) and related legislative prescripts governing the sector.

Common findings included illegal practise of registering just one qualification with the relevant quality council, and fraudulently adding several other unaccredited programmes under that license.

“Most of these colleges were found to offer unaccredited courses such as Electrical Engineering studies N1-N6, Civil Engineering N1-N6, Medical Secretary N4-N6, National Policing Diploma and Financial Accounting, among others. This illegal practice affects many prospective students, who are lured into the trap of obtaining qualifications that would not be recognised by employers.

“The department has issued several citations to offending operators instructing them to cease the offering of unaccredited programmes with immediate effect and inform affected students, as well as refunding them. The department is awaiting representation from the affected colleges after which it will issue a further communique,” the department said.

As a new legislative requirement, all private Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) accredited providers are now required to register with the department as private colleges.

The Higher Education Act, 1997 and the Continuing Education and Training Colleges Act, 2006 governs all private higher education institutions and colleges.

“The purpose of these legislations is to ensure that institutions operate within the law, have the necessary resources, capacity and expertise to offer acceptable standards of higher education qualifications that are aligned to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF),” the department said.

The lack of spaces at public universities and colleges and anxious parents who want their children to access post-school education and training opportunities result in many prospective students enrolling at unregistered private higher education institutions and colleges that are prevalent at this time of the year, the department said.

Students are urged to verify the accreditation and registration status of private higher education institutions and colleges, their programmes and sites with the department, relevant SETAs, as well as QCTO, Council on Higher Education and Umalusi.

Prospective students can also access the private higher education institutions and college registers on the department’s website at or alternatively call a toll-free number: 0800 87 2222. –