Higher Education Department Will Shut Down Colleges Operating Illegally

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Studying at an unregistered college can have serious consequences for students, including issues related to accreditation, financial stability, and career prospects. The higher education department has revealed its plan to deal with institutions operating illegally in South Africa. 


The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) is gearing up to shut down unregistered institutions operating illegally. The department defines colleges operating illegally as those offering services but are not registered with the relevant accreditation bodies.  

According to Section 29(3) of the Constitution, all private providers of education and training must be registered with the DHET. This seeks to ensure that intuition adheres to legal standards and possesses the necessary resources, capacity, and expertise to offer high-quality higher education.

The DHET has two publicly accessible registers on its official website to ensure members of the public can do their due diligence before pursuing a qualification at a higher education institution. 

These registers are the Register of Private Higher Education Institutions and the Register of Private Colleges. Additionally, the Register of Private Higher Education Institutions serves as a vital tool to alert the public about illegal colleges.

The DHET follows a specific set of procedures before seeking assistance from the South African Police Services (SAPS). These procedures include identification and warning, admittance and termination and finally legal action. 

How The DHET Deals With Illegal Institutions

Upon identifying an illegal institution, the DHET issues a warning letter, outlining a timeframe for the institution's response. If the institution acknowledges wrongdoing and agrees to cease its operations, it becomes responsible for notifying students and refunding their fees.

Students can seek legal assistance or approach the Small Claims Court if their fees are not refunded by a college. 

In cases where the institution refuses to comply, fails to respond, or persists in illegal activities, the DHET is obliged to initiate legal proceedings with the South African Police Service (SAPS). These institutions are subsequently listed as bogus colleges.

Following the DHET's action, SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority assume responsibility for executing further steps to address any unlawful conduct on the part of an institution. 

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