How to recognise and avoid bogus colleges

How to recognise and avoid bogus colleges

In an economic environment where skills translate to employment opportunities, young people in South Africa are increasingly turning to private providers of education and training to prepare and empower themselves for the job market. However – and unfortunately – many of the colleges that claim to provide accredited training and learning opportunities are nothing but fly-by-night institutions, the qualifications of which aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

There are ways to distinguish these bogus institutions of higher learning by paying attention to a few key characteristics. Here’s how to ensure that private colleges and educational institutions are legitimate.

Do your research

Making sure that a private college is legitimate starts by researching the college and making sure it is registered with, and accredited by the relevant bodies.

Firstly, institutions of learning have to be registered with the state in order to legally operate in South Africa.

With regards to private FET colleges, this will be the Department of Higher Education and Training, unless the private college in question offers short courses and skills programmes accredited exclusively by the QCTO, in which case they do not have to register with the Department of Education. Aside from being registered with the appropriate Department of Education, private providers of education and training also have to be accredited with a quality assurance body.

These quality assurance bodies include the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) or the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education or Training (Umalusi).

Make sure that an educational institution is offering accredited programmes by checking whether it is registered with the South African National Qualifications Framework.

The NQF is the national standard of learning achievements used to ascertain the professional qualification a person has. You can do this online by visiting the South African Qualifications Authority’s website. On the SAQA website, hover your mouse over “Services” in the header of the page, and select “List of Accredited Providers” from the drop-down menu. An Excel file, updated with providers that are currently accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards will be downloaded, from where you can search for the name of the institution you’d like to verify.

When visiting the institution, ask to see the certificate or letter, issued by the relevant quality assurance body or the Department of Higher Education and training – by law these verifying documents need to be publicly available.

Sparrow FET College offers various NQF-level programmes – all accredited by quality assurance bodies – that empower our students to thrive in various industries, including construction, engineering, hospitality, manufacturing, education, IT, sports, and business administration. To find out more, or to apply for an accredited programme, contact Sparrow FET College today.
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