Beware of bogus courses: Education dept warns students about fake qualifications

MISDIRECTION Sandton Technical College in Johannesburg was busted by the department of higher education and training for offering unaccredited study programmes. Picture: Rosetta Msimango
MISDIRECTION Sandton Technical College in Johannesburg was busted by the department of higher education and training for offering unaccredited study programmes. Picture: Rosetta Msimango

Tebello Mosebo’s hope for a bright future has evaporated. She has not received her certificate for a year-long early childhood development course from Brainwave Education and Training Academy in Bloemfontein since completing her studies in 2012.

The only proof Mosebo has confirming that she registered and studied at the academy are copies of receipts for her registration.

At her graduation ceremony in 2013, Mosebo (27), her classmate Moipone Leshoro (27) and others were not awarded their certificates. However, they were allowed to wear college graduation attire and took pictures with their lecturers to remember the day.

Mosebo told City Press that she spent R8 000 studying, but is now struggling to get a job without a certificate.

“I’m struggling to take care of my daughter and extended family. Getting an education was my only hope. I used my grandmother’s pension savings to enrol for this course.

"It’s really frustrating that I don’t have any qualification to show what I did with her money, at least to give her assurance that I studied,” Mosebo said, adding that last year, Brainwave told her the relevant sector education and training authority (Seta) was delaying issuing her certificate.

Brainwave told City Press that it was only accredited by the education, training and development practices Seta (ETDP Seta) on June 5 2012 – after Mosebo and Leshoro had enrolled for the course a few months earlier.

At the time of both students’ enrolment, Brainwave was neither registered with the higher education department nor accredited by any Seta.

Higher education authorities told City Press that, unfortunately, Mosebo’s qualification is invalid.

This means students who receive qualifications from unaccredited colleges carry certificates that are not worth the paper they are written on.

Authorities said the East London-based academy entered into an illegal deal with Isibani Community College, a legal and accredited college, to offer an early childhood development programme in 2012.

ETDP Seta spokesperson Anna-Joy Motene confirmed that Isibani college was accredited by the Seta.

Kaindi Goodwill Salade, office manager at Brainwave, confirmed the academy’s partnership with Isibani, saying they partnered with the accredited training provider Isibani College at that time.

“The purpose of our partnership was to convert our students from a basic course to a full qualification accredited course as is the requirement. Our students were indeed informed about this and they continued to do the full-time qualification.”

Asked if he was aware that the partnership with Isibani college was illegal according to the department, Salade said: “Well that question is past tense because we are now accredited.”

He said they would also register or comply with other authorities, especially now that their business was growing.

“We are not a heartless and ignorant institution. Whatever changes that affect the industry, we make sure that we communicate to students so that they upgrade and always stay up to date.

"Meaning we do not take short cuts. We take seriously the need to stay up to date and in line with the legal requirements,” Salade said.

He said the reason Mosebo and Leshoro were not issued certificates was because they had outstanding payments.

He showed City Press copies of agreements purporting to have been signed by both students acknowledging their debt and that they agreed to graduate without receiving their certificates.

But both students denied owing or signing any document acknowledging debt.

Higher education authorities said the use of legitimate institutions as an endorsement for fake qualifications was a growing concern.

Bogus private colleges were advertising courses claiming to be approved by legitimate local and international tertiary institutions.

Often, they offer unaccredited online courses claiming to have links to US- and UK-based institutions of higher learning.

In a move to curb this problem, new legislation requires all private colleges to be accredited by the relevant Seta, the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations and to officially register with the department of higher education and training.

Madikwe Mabotha, the department spokesperson, said that in the past three weeks, officials have been inspecting private colleagues in major cities including Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit, Polokwane and Bloemfontein to ensure compliance.

He said six colleges were offering programmes that were not accredited by relevant Setas and were not registered with the department.

They also probed institutions that were entering into illegal deals and signing memorandums of understanding to offer programmes on behalf of accredited ones.

The department confirmed that Sandton Technical College in Johannesburg was one of those busted for entering into an illegal partnership with a properly accredited institution in order to offer a National Diploma in Policing.

The college has other campuses in Pretoria, East London, Polokwane, Witbank, Durban, Nelspruit and Rustenburg.

Mabotha said the department found that the college was not accredited with the Safety and Security Seta, the state body that issues licences to colleges which offer the policing qualification.

“The department wishes to warn prospective students that this practice by the college is illegal.

"No private college can sell its operating licence to a third party. Neither is it permissible for a licence holder to franchise, outsource or rent its programmes,” Mabotha said.

He added that the college could not be validated by either the department or the relevant quality assurer and was therefore considered invalid.


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