ape Town – Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says government will take serious action against fly-by-night institutions and individuals who misrepresent their qualifications.
Speaking to journalists during a media briefing of the Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster on Tuesday, the Minister said his department was engaging institutions in the justice and judicial system to ensure that this practice is seen as a more serious offence.
“Are we asking for tougher sanctions? Yes. In any case, if you lie about your qualifications or you produce a false certificate, it is fraud already in terms of existing laws.
“The problem that we normally have is that people take this so lightly, they don’t report it. When they sometimes report, it is taken as a minor offence,” he said.
This comes as the issue of fake qualifications has made headlines in recent times, a trend that has prompted government to prioritise the matter.
The Minister said this practice needed to be rooted out as it had the potential to discredit the integrity of the country’s qualification system.
He also said government has been concerned about an increase in incidents of people lying about their qualifications or the presentation of forged certificates, as well as institutions that are either unregistered or are offering qualifications that are not registered.
“We want this to be taken seriously by society as a whole so that those who are aware of people with false qualifications … or institutions that are not registered should actually report this matter either to the department or to the police.
“That is what we would like to see because we want to stamp this out for the sake of the credibility of our qualifications as a country,” he said.
During the briefing, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, who is the chair of the cluster, said government was taking this matter seriously.
“There will be consequences for persons and institutions found guilty of fraud. All private organisations are encouraged to ensure that together we root out the phenomenon of misrepresented and fraudulent qualifications,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister Dlamini said South Africa’s ninth medical school opened its doors for the first intake of 60 new students at the University of Limpopo during January 2016.
She also said that this is the second historically disadvantaged university to be involved in the training of medical doctors and is linked to the Presidential Project of building an academic hospital in Limpopo.
“In addition, intake at the Sol Plaatje University and the University of Mpumalanga have increased to 797 and 940 respectively,” she said.
She said with regards to student funding, government has made available R2.3 billion towards covering the 2016 no-fee increase shortfall. An additional amount of R4.5 billion has been made available for student’s historic debt benefitting over 71 000 students under the National Student Financial Scheme (NSFAS) from 2013-15, who were owing institutions.