Thousands of South African students stranded as ‘Dysfunctional’ colleges banned

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Thousands of South African students stranded as 'Dysfunctional' colleges banned

Thousands of South African students stranded as ‘Dysfunctional’ colleges banned

  • The closure will affect over 13,000 students, with some stranded without accommodation.
  • The Department of Higher Education and Training has been deregistering the institutions since July 2023.
  • Parents are demanding answers and refunds for the year’s tuition fees.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has ordered the closure of four private colleges in South Africa, describing them as “dysfunctional” and leaving thousands of students in limbo. Nzimande stated that the colleges had fabricated exam results and faced other issues. Additionally, the education department reported that the institutions had failed to submit audited financial statements since 2020.

It operates educational institutions on more than 60 campuses in South Africa and internationally. Authorities have instructed the colleges, including Damelin, CityVarsity, Icesa City Campus, and Lyceum College located around the country, to cease operations by the end of the year.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande informed journalists that a large-scale investigation into the colleges had brought serious issues to his attention. Mr. Nzimande labeled the colleges “dysfunctional” due to several complaints received from students and workers, “most of which remain unresolved.” The minister said that some students had complained about the poor quality of teaching and learning, lack of administrative support, and lack of professionalism.

He added allegations of non-payment of staff salaries and corruption. According to the minister, the educational institutions also inflated their numbers to hide their declining student population. He stated that the provider claimed to have 50,000 students, but its 2022 annual reports indicated a total enrollment of 13,096 students across all four institutions. Mr. Nzimande also mentioned that some students’ examination marks were fabricated.

“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,” the minister said.

Additionally, it is said that the colleges failed to submit audited annual financial statements and obtain tax clearance to prove their financial viability. The Department of Higher Education and Training has been in the process of deregistering the private institutions since July 2023, but the final decision was made last Friday.


The decision will affect more than 13,000 students, leaving some stranded without accommodation. Education authorities have urged affected students to transfer to other institutions. Parents have been visiting the colleges to demand answers and refunds for the year’s tuition fees.

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