In a bid to stop fraudulent business owners from preying on innocent masses who are desperate to acquire a degree, Higher Education Department Braamfontein had 11 fake colleges shut down.
“These bogus colleges are robbing young people, they are not legal and at the end of the day, young people end up with fake qualifications,”Higher Education Department spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said.
Most of the students who fall victim at these colleges come from very poor backgrounds and some are likely taking out loans from financial institutions or individuals to pay for their fees.
The department said 11 fake colleges had been shut down and that they began this year’s operation in Braamfontein, central Johannesburg, on Monday. Its supposed to continue in Braamfontein until Friday before moving to other areas in the country.
The operation which will be spreading across the country has investigated these fake colleges in cities including Pretoria, Durban, Polokwane, and East London. Last year, the department opened 52 criminal cases against those who owned or operated the colleges in question.
Nkwanyana said in all of the cases they had dealt with so far, the people operating these fake colleges were foreigners. Once arrested, they were charged with fraud and violation of government regulations.
One of the offenders had already been sentenced to six years’ jail. The rest of the cases are in court and the department hoped to secure more convictions of the owners of these fake colleges by this year.
Nkwanyana said the department has plans of increasing its operations at the beginning of the academic year, as this was the time when most higher learning colleges enrolled fresh students.
“They are mushrooming everywhere and this is a critical time, it’s opening of the year and they enroll a lot of students. They are serious cancers.”
Educational fraud can come in different forms, all of which are fake and illegal. This includes fraudulent colleges and fake degree certificates.
These colleges just like the 11 fake colleges shut down in Braamfontein operate solely to enrich themselves through enrollment fees, course fees, some ‘life experience degree’ awards etc and by so doing, provide a means for fraudsters to obtain authentic-looking degrees and associated documentation from unauthorized institutions.
Fraudulent acts of this sort are becoming more sophisticated and regular, with credible websites and verification services – including directly lifting some content and sections of material from the genuine university websites. Applicants are therefore advised to thread carefully to avoid falling victim to any of these fake institutions like the 11 fake colleges shut down in Braamfontein.