Birnam students’ future hangs in the balance

2010-11-01 14:40

Birnam Business College students will protest outside their college offices in Braamfontein tomorrow to demand re-payment of their study fees.

Four weeks ago students discovered that some of the courses they were registered for were not accredited. Since then students have not been attending lectures after the college’s management failed to show them letters of accreditation for the courses.

Gomolemo Mokgokolosi, an advanced sound engineering student said he paid R32?800 for a course which Birnam is not registered to offer.

“The course I’m doing is not registered, the department of higher education told us that only computer studies is registered.”

Most of the students spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing victimisation by the college director Brenda Riesnik. Students said that when they confronted Riesnik a month ago she suspended them all and told them to return a week later. But students have ever since refused to attend lectures.

Birnam offers courses in business management, marketing, journalism, sound engineering and computer studies costing between R18?000 to R32?000.

The department of higher education and training said Birnam is registered to offer only the National Certificate: Information Technology: End User Computing on NQF level three.

“Should Birnam Business College be offering any other qualification it is doing so illegally.”

A senior manager for evaluation and accreditation at Umalusi Dr Ronel Blom confirmed the college was accredited with Umalusi, which is the quality assurer for general and further education and training.

According to Tamara Bezuidenhout, acting senior manager for programme accreditation, Birnam deregistered with the Higher Education Quality Committee as a higher education institution in December 2004.

The department advised students “who suspect that there may be fraudulent activities taking place at any private institution to report such institution to the police so that the law can take its course”.

The college’s students have laid criminal charges against Riesnik with the police. A student said: “We opened a case of fraud against Riesnik and the police said that they are busy with the investigation.”

Hillbrow police spokesperson Warrant Officer Kriban Naidoo confirmed a case had been opened and said police were investigating but couldn’t divulge further information.

Last Friday Birnam called a meeting with parents but according to one parent Birnam failed to produce the necessary documentation showing that the courses they were offering were accredited.

Birnam’s director, Riesnik refused to answer questions from City Press and said: “No comments to the media.”

» The department of education advised students to check the registration status of institutions before they register by calling 012?312?5878 or 080?073?4338 or visiting the website.

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