/ 3 April 2024

Educor qualifications are valid, says department

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The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has assured students that the qualifications they have obtained from Educor’s private institutions are valid. 

“The qualifications issued or obtained during the period of registration and the phase-out period, remain valid and recognised,” said DHET spokesperson, Vali Mbele in a statement released on Wednesday. 

The assurance was confirmed by the South African Qualifications Authority. 

On 22 March, the department’s director general, Nkosinathi Sishi, issued a statement in the Government Gazette announcing that the department had decided to deregister Damelin, CityVarsity, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum College as private higher learning institutes for failure to submit audited financial statements, including tax clearance certificates, since 2020. 

Damelin, CityVarsity, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum College are owned by Educor, the largest private education provider in Southern Africa.

Following the announcement, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande slammed Educor for its “gross governance and compliance failures”, which have left 13 000 students in limbo

The department has, however, given the four colleges until December to “conclude the remaining examinations or assessments for the remainder of the current academic year”. 

Nzimande has instructed that Educor and his department assist students affected by the cancellation. “We don’t want to leave students stranded,” said the minister during an address in Pretoria. 

The higher education department has confirmed that they are currently handling student queries, “many of whom have expressed their frustration with the lack of communication and unresponsiveness of the four Educor colleges”. 

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) previously told the Mail & Guardian that they had received complaints from students regarding Educor’s “maladministration”, which left them frustrated and unable to carry out their studies efficiently. 

“These institutions should probably not be reregistered again because there has been no management or governance structure for the last two to three years, so these institutions have completely failed,” said SAUS spokesperson, Asive Dlanjwa.

In light of Educor’s deregistration, the department has issued a stern warning to existing private higher education institutions, that the department “will not hesitate to cancel the registration of any institution that willfully violates the conditions of their registration”. 

Mbele said that the department was on the lookout for individuals or groups who have been operating or intend to establish bogus institutions. 

Since the deregistration of Educor institutions has been announced, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) — which has been advocating for labour practices at the four colleges — has called for the higher education department to “nationalise” the institutions. 

“The department must nationalise these colleges and absorb the workers permanently,” said SAFTU in a statement

SAFTU is also calling on the department to support students who are mid-way in pursuing their studies and to support the workers who worked at the institutions, from cleaners and security to lecturers and admin staff. 

Although Educor has not released a statement, the group’s spokesperson, Surina Baijnath, told The Star that they are “extremely surprised” by the higher education department’s decision. 

Baijnath has not confirmed whether Educor will be reregistrating its institutions.