The Department of High Education and Training has sought to contain an alarming emergence of ‘bogus universities’ that have surfaced online, by urging matriculants to be vigilant when considering an application with any such institutes. The department warned that no compensation will be given to anyone who falls for the fraudulent universities.
Department chief director for university policy and development support, Mahlubi Mabizela, said all universities and higher education institutions were registered with the department; hence it was advisable that all students make the appropriate checks before making any application. Furthermore, students were advised to stay clear of any such institute.
“In South Africa, the name of an institution cannot be a university if it is not a public institution. That name is protected by law,” he explained.
Reports have stated that the department has determined many of the institutes to be based overseas, which made it difficult to investigate or restrict. However, he added that there were several that were also operational within South Africa as well.
The issue has been complicated further by the fact that some online universities have taken to using the department’s logo, in a bid to hoax individuals into signing up. Mabizela stressed that such use of the department’s logo was forbidden for all institutes, and urged students to take the appropriate measures of discovering whether they were registered in the country of origin.
“You’d rather not have a qualification, than have a bogus qualification. Don’t go for a qualification that is going to have a question mark over it. Rather not do anything, than to do something that is not going to take you anyway,” he advised.
Despite the department working closely with the police to investigate and shut down such universities, he warned matriculants that the department would not offer a financial compensation to those who were caught out through such hoaxes.
“If you put in your money and it’s a bogus institution, it’s gone. You won’t ever get it back. Which is why we tell people as much as possible, don’t go to an institution that is not registered,” he said.
For anyone seeking clarity on the institutions that are registered with the department, you may visit the website www.dhet.gov.za. Alternatively you can call 0800 872 222. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)