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Blog cover for the article- "Registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training." with Graduates from BMT College as a focal point.
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Business Management Training College (Pty) Ltd (BMT College) is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) as a Private Higher Education Institution, Registration Number 2011/HE07/002. This statement is on all our marketing material, our website, and letterheads and can even be heard on our radio advertisements. It is a requirement from DHET. But what does it mean, exactly?
 
In a previous article, we discussed how to check a qualification’s accreditation status and briefly touched on an institution’s registration status. But with all the turmoil in the news about the deregistration of four prominent Private Higher Education Institutions, we thought it would be a good idea to delve a little deeper into what it means to be registered.
 
For ease of reference, we will promptly review the South African post-school education system. We will then discuss the need for and importance of registration with the Department of Education. Before we conclude this article, we will also show you where to check the registration status of a private higher education institution and what to do if you want to continue with your studies at another institution.
 
Please note that this article refers to Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEI) that fall within the Higher Education and Training Sub-Framework (HEQSF).

Review of the South African Post-School Education System

Before we discuss the importance of registration, let’s review the South African education system. The system can be divided into two parts: the schooling sector (up to matric) and the post-schooling sector. South Africa has a Department of Basic Education (for the schooling sector) and a Department of Higher Education (for the post-schooling sector).

The Quality Councils, aka Accreditation Bodies

South Africa has three accreditation bodies: Umalusi, the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) and the Council on Higher Education (CHE). These quality councils are provided for in the NQF Act (Act 67 of 2008). 

  • Umalusi is responsible for the accreditation of matric, adult matric and vocational qualifications.
  • The QCTO is responsible for accrediting qualifications for trades and occupations, also known as SETA qualifications.
  • CHE is responsible for the accreditation of Higher Education qualifications (Higher Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees).

Post-school qualifications can be categorised as either a Higher Education qualification (think University or a University of Technology) or a Trades and Occupation qualification.

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and SAQA

All qualifications are recorded on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and registered by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) on the framework. The NQF consists of three sub-frameworks, one for each quality council.

  • General and Further Education and Training Sub-Framework (GENFETQSF) for Umalusi
  • Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF) for the QCTO, and
  • Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF) for the CHE.

The Legal Requirement for Registration

Section 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (The Constitution) deals with the right to education. Section 29 (3) specifically states the following:

Everyone has the right to establish and maintain, at their own expense, independent educational institutions that:

a) Do not discriminate on the basis of race;

b) Are registered with the state; and

c) Maintain standards that are not inferior to standards at comparable public educational institutions.

The National Qualifications Framework Act and the Higher Education Act are part of the legislative framework that enacts Section 29 of the Constitution, specifically as it relates to private higher education institutions.

The National Qualifications Framework Act (Act No 67 of 2008, as amended) repealed the South African Qualifications Authority Act (Act 58 of 1995), and provides for the

  • National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
  • Responsibilities of the Minister of Education
  • South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
  • Quality Councils

The Higher Education Act (Act No 101 of 1997, as amended) regulates higher education and provides for (amongst others):

  • The establishment of the Council on Higher Education (CHE)
  • The registration of private higher education institutions
  • Quality assurance and quality promotion in higher education.

The Higher Education Act is elaborated in the Regulations for the Registration of Private Higher Education Institutions (Government Gazette No. 39880, 31 March 2016), referred to as the Regulations.

Section 29 (3) of the Constitution relates to private higher education institutions. These laws then make provision for such private institutions to register with the state. Furthermore, these laws are meant to ensure that such registered institutions offer qualifications that are not inferior to comparable public institutions.

So, what does it mean for a private higher education institution to be registered?

In short, being a registered (or provisionally registered) private higher education institution means that it is regulated. The regulation of such private institutions is intended to enact section 29 (3) of the Constitution and ensure that the standards of private higher education are not inferior to those of public institutions.

According to the Department of Higher Education (DHET), the purpose of registering private higher education institutions is to ensure that: “

  • Private higher education institutions offer an acceptable quality of education.
  • Students receive higher education from institutions that have the resources, capacity and/or expertise to deliver quality programmes.
  • Students enrolled with private higher education institutions obtain qualifications that are aligned with the NQF.
  • The education system continues on a path of transformation in accordance with government policy and regulation.”

The regulatory framework, as discussed above, sets the criteria as to who is eligible to apply for registration and who qualifies for registration. Further to this, the regulatory framework also outlines the responsibilities of an institution once it is registered.

Who is eligible to register as a Private Higher Education Institution?

A private higher education institution can apply for registration if it is registered as a company as per the Companies Act, 2008 (Act No. 71 of 1973), and proposes to provide higher education. Providing higher education means the following:

  • Registering students for higher education qualifications,
  • Providing and delivering the curricula,
  • Conducting assessment of students,
  • Awarding qualifications.

Who then qualifies to register as a Private Higher Education Institution?

An eligible institution must meet the following requirements to qualify for registration. These requirements are set out in Section 53 of the Higher Education Act and Chapter 3 of the Regulations. The requirements consist of three parts: quality assurance, financial sustainability and compliance with health and safety regulations.

Quality assurance basically consists of the accreditation of qualifications. The Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) is responsible for overseeing the quality assurance of Higher Education qualifications. The HEQC evaluates and accredits if:

  • An institution can provide a programme at a higher education level.
  • The programme to be offered is actually at a higher education level.
  • The institution complies with South African professional practices.

Financial sustainability requires that an institution can sustain its programme offerings, maintain its operations at the required standards, and meet its financial obligations to students.

Health and Safety compliance means the institution meets the regulations related to the health and safety of all persons at its site(s) of delivery.

What are the responsibilities of a registered institution?

If a private higher education institution has met the requirements to be registered or to be provisionally registered, then it must meet specific responsibilities. These responsibilities are stipulated in Chapter 6 of the Regulations and include, amongst others:

  • Maintaining registration by continuing to comply with the requirements of the Act and the conditions of registration.
  • Publishing a prospectus, calendar, or brochure at least once a year.
  • Keeping a comprehensive record of the academic achievement of each student enrolled.
  • Making available transcripts of academic records and certificates on request.
  • Ensuring accurate advertising and making no false, fraudulent or misleading statements.
  • Submitting to the registrar an annual report on or before 30 April of each year.
  • On cancellation of registration, inform students, issue students copies of records of academic achievements, reimburse students, and make arrangements for them to complete their studies at comparable public or private institutions.

When can the Department cancel the registration of an institution?

The registrar of the Department of Higher Education is required to cancel the registration of an institution if the institution no longer :

  • Offers higher education as defined by the Higher Education Act,
  • meets the eligibility criteria,
  • fulfil the requirements of registration,
  • Comply with the conditions of registration.

In addition, the Department of Higher Education can also cancel the registration of an institution if:

  • It provides fraudulent, false or misleading information to the registrar or the public,
  • It is liquidated,
  • The owner or directors are convicted of an offence in terms of section 66 of the Act.

What happens when registration lapses or is cancelled?

If you have been following the stories in the news, then you may notice that some of the dates mentioned go back almost five years. Deregistration is a process and does not simply happen overnight. As with public institutions (remember the Department’s fight with UNISA last year), private institutions are also afforded an opportunity to respond to, appeal, and/or correct the reasons for deregistration.

Only when the institution fails to do so is the registrar forced to cancel a registration. Depending on the conditions of the cancellation, the institution may be allowed to teach out the programmes before a specific period. However, the institutions are usually not allowed to continue advertising and to register new students on these programmes.

If an institution is unable to teach out the programme, or the students request a refund, then the institution must provide the student with a transcript and record of their studies. This should allow the student to continue with their studies at another institution.

How can I continue with my studies at BMT College?

The good news is that you can continue and complete your studies at another institution that offers the same or a similar qualification. In fact, the Director for the registration of private higher education institutions, Dr Shaheeda Essack, encourages affected students to transfer to other colleges “if they can do so” (News24.com, 2024).

The record of studies forms part of the evidence a student needs to apply for a process called “Credit Accumulation and Transfer,” or CAT. CAT is a form of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

You can download our latest prospectus and review the full process in section 8.2.3, RPL application and assessment for credit accumulation and transfer (CAT). 8.2.3.1 speaks specifically about Inter-Institutional Credit Accumulation and Transfer. This means credits obtained at another institution may be recognised as meeting part of the requirements of a BMT College programme. Up to 50% of a completed qualification can be transferred, and no credits can be transferred to the final year of studies, as per the Council on Higher Education (CHE, 2016) requirements.

So, if you started your studies at another institution and can no longer continue there, you can apply for the RPL CAT with BMT College. Simply contact us and let us know that you wish to apply for credit transfer. We will send you the Academic Council Review application and the documents required to apply. We will assess the evidence against the programme you want to register for. We will then inform you how you can continue with your studies at BMT College.

If we do not offer a qualification in your field of study, you can simply look for another reputable institution on the DHET register of Private Higher Education Institutions where you can continue your studies.

How to check the registration of a private higher education institution

Even if you have skipped over some (or most) of the information in the section above, it should be clear that registering as a private higher education institution is an intensely regulated process. This is to protect your interest as a student.  Registration also ensures that the quality of the programmes offered at private institutions is not inferior to that offered at public institutions. Private higher education institutions then also have a responsibility to continue complying with all the regulations and conditions of registration.

The Department of Higher Education regularly publishes an updated register of Private Higher Education Institutions to inform the public about their registration status. The latest register can be accessed directly from the Department of Higher Education’s website under Resources, Registers.

The Department publishes two registers.

The Register of Private Colleges only includes those private colleges that offer Engineering studies (N1 – N3), NC(V) qualifications and Adult Education and Training (AET).

The Register of Private Higher Education Institutions is the comprehensive register of private higher education institutions, offering complete higher education programmes that lead to a certificate, diploma or degree at a higher education level.

The PHEI registration consists of six parts. Parts 1 to 3 also include the programmes the institution is registered for.

1.    Registered institutions

2.    Provisionally registered institutions

3.    Institutions whose registration was cancelled

4.    Institutions for which cancellation has come into effect

5.    Institutions who requested that their registration be cancelled

6.    Warnings about illegal or bogus colleges.

Navigating the registration status and ensuring the credibility of private higher education institutions may seem daunting. Still, with the rigorous safeguards in place, students can rest assured that their academic journeys are protected. As we move towards wrapping up this guide, it’s essential to remember the significance of due diligence and the resources available to assist in making informed decisions about your education.

Conclusion

In summary, securing your education with a registered private higher education institution like BMT College ensures you’re investing in a rigorously regulated and quality-assured standard of education. It’s not merely about meeting statutory requirements; it’s about being part of an educational community committed to excellence and integrity.

Rest assured, the accredited programmes at BMT College stand shoulder to shoulder with those offered at public institutions, guaranteeing both the validity and the value of your hard-earned qualification. Beyond the assurance of quality, registration signifies a safety net for students, providing a pathway to continue your studies without disruption, should you ever need to transfer.

At BMT College, we’re not just adhering to standards—we’re dedicated to surpassing them and enhancing the educational experience for every student. Our track record of compliance, reflected in at least the last three “complete annual reports ” submitted to the Department of Higher Education, underscores our commitment to maintaining and elevating the high calibre of our offerings.

We invite you to contact us with any feedback or queries you might have. Our team is eager to assist and guide you through your educational journey. Reach out to us at info@bmtcollege.ac.za for any assistance, be it compliments or concerns.

Together, we’re shaping a brighter future through quality education.

References: 

Damelin, Lyceum College and CityVarsity deregistered. (2024, March 26). The Mail & Guardian. https://mg.co.za/education/2024-03-26-damelin-lyceum-college-and-cityvarsity-deregistered/

Department of Higher Education and Training—DocRegisters. (n.d.). Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.dhet.gov.za/SitePages/DocRegisters.aspx

Govender, M. T. and P. (n.d.). College crusher: Education officials, Educor battled for years – now 13 000 students are heartbroken. News24. Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/college-crusher-education-officials-educor-battled-for-years-now-13-000-students-are-heartbroken-20240327

Govender, P. (n.d.-a). Blade Nzimande slams Educor for gross compliance failures, including misrepresenting student numbers. News24. Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/blade-nzimande-slams-educor-for-gross-compliance-failures-20240326

Govender, P. (n.d.-b). Students in limbo as higher education dept deregisters Damelin, Lyceum College and CityVarsity. News24. Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/students-in-limbo-as-higher-education-dept-deregisters-damelin-lyceum-college-and-cityvarsity-20240325

Higher Education Act 101 of 1997 | South African Government. (n.d.). Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.gov.za/documents/higher-education-act

Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Act 23 of 2012 | South African Government. (n.d.). Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.gov.za/documents/higher-education-and-training-laws-amendment-act-0

Higher Education Laws Amendment Act 21 of 2011 | South African Government. (n.d.). Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.gov.za/documents/acts/higher-education-laws-amendment-act-21-2011-14-dec-2011

Higher Education Quality Committee. (2012). Criteria for Programme Accreditation. Council on Higher Education [CHE].

Legislative and policy mandate | Council on Higher Education. (n.d.). Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.che.ac.za/about-us/legislative-and-policy-mandate

Mashego, A. (n.d.). Nzimande places Unisa under administration. City Press. Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.news24.com/citypress/news/breaking-nzimande-places-unisa-under-administration-20231027

National Qualifications Framework Act 67 of 2008 | South African Government. (n.d.). Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.gov.za/documents/national-qualifications-framework-act

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa | South African Government. (n.d.). Retrieved 27 March 2024, from https://www.gov.za/documents/constitution/constitution-republic-south-africa-04-feb-1997

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