/ 27 March 2024

Nzimande slams Educor for leaving 13 000 students stranded

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has slammed private education provider Educor’s “gross governance and compliance failures” following the decision to deregister Damelin, CityVarsity, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum College. 

Nzimande was addressing the media in Pretoria on Tuesday in the wake of his department’s decision to deregister the Educor-owned institutions for failing to submit their 2020 and 2021 annual financial certificates and annual reports. The move will leave 13 000 students in limbo.

The higher education department has given Educor — the largest private education provider in Southern Africa — until October 2024 to appeal the decision.

According to Nzimande, the directorate dealing with private institutions has received numerous complaints from students over the years.

“The complaints we have received include misrepresentation of the number of students, poor method of teaching and learning, poor administration, allegations of corruption and late payment of staff,” the minister said.

The directorate assigned to private institutions has found that students were given grades based on exam papers that were never marked by educators.

“That’s the worst sin that can be committed by an education institution, whether public or private. You cannot just lie and give students marks based on scripts that were never marked, or as if there was an exam that was written, for that matter,” Nzimande said.

Educor has also been accused of claiming to have 50 000 students on its books. But, based on Educor’s latest annual report, CityVarsity had 540 students, Damelin had 4 012, Icesa City Campus had 145 and Lyceum College had 8 399, Nzimande said.

“Are they trying to project that they are having lots of students and hiding the fact that their student numbers have been rapidly declining?” Nzimande asked.

The minister has assured students registered at the affected institutions that classes will operate until December 2024 to allow students to phase out the academic year. But the cancellation of City Varsity will take immediate effect.

Nzimande has instructed Educor and his department to assist students affected by the cancellation. “We don’t want to leave students stranded,” he said.

“It is incumbent upon Educor institutions to find alternative institutions for the students to complete their studies, either public or private … We are a very generous department; we are also willing to assist on that score in identifying relevant institutions where students [are able] to complete [their studies].”

The minister has urged employees from the affected institutions to seek assistance from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration if required.

“Under these circumstances, and with the information at our disposal, it would be unconscionable to maintain the registration status of these four private institutions and allow ourselves to become complicit in gross governance and compliance failure,” Nzimande said.An Educor employee told M&G that they are still waiting to hear from management following the announcement by the higher education department to deregister its institutions.