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Be wary of bogus colleges!

WARNING: Scamsters exploit higher education regulations to hoodwink prospective students. More here ...

As matriculants start considering their options for 2018 and applying for higher education, an education expert has warned parents, guardians and prospective students to ensure they don’t fall prey to bogus college scams.

Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of the Independent Institute of Education, says that bogus colleges have become increasingly sophisticated in their methodology, presenting offers that appear legitimate.

“As with any other type of scam, the best scams are always those that have a veneer of respectability and accurate information – the best lies always contain a grain of truth,” she noted.

She added, “South Africans know that they should be wary of bogus colleges as from time to time there are media reports about campaigns conducted by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), who visit the premises of such colleges and lay charges with the police. Unfortunately, these colleges exploit the deep aspirational desire of young people to access quality education so that they can create a better life for themselves. Perhaps because of the fundamental nature of that desire, potential students and their parents, who can often least afford it, fall prey to the scams.”

Private higher education institutions are not permitted to describe themselves as ‘private universities’, even though they are subject to exactly the same oversight as public universities. Their advertising material is often written in complicated language, which tends to mislead the public into thinking they are genuine universities. The problem is made worse by the limited powers of the Department of Higher Education – they cannot actually stop the illegal provision of education, particularly because many such bogus providers are not registered and the Department has to rely on fraud charges being laid with the police.

Coughlan says the only remedy – until a more efficient way is found to put a stop to the activities of these bogus colleges – is to continue driving a campaign to educate the public about their activities, and expose the fraudsters.

The public is therefore reminded to look for factual information, and to avoid institutions that claim that their registration, and that of the courses they offer, is ‘pending’ or ‘in progress’. “For example,” Coughlan advises, “a college is either registered, or not. A qualification is either accredited and registered, or it is not. And if a programme and a campus are registered and accredited, the public should be easily able to access the certificate provided by the DHET to that effect. Any campus or qualification that cannot be backed up with a certificate should be viewed as bogus.”

Let us know if you come across such a scam by sending an email to randfonteinherald@caxton.co.za.

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at randfonteinherald@caxton.co.za  (please remember to include your contact details in the email) or phone us on 011 693 3671.

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