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Education scams in South Africa: Fly by night colleges

By Nomali Cele

Fly by night colleges are a problem in south Africa

With the flurry of young people who are looking to study and are clearly desperate to gain access to the country’s tertiary institutions, con artists looking to make a quick buck are thriving. Regardless of the fact that it is at the expense of poor young people trying to get an education. What are fly by night colleges? You come into a branded and furnished building with students and staff to apply and pay a registration fee; but when you return for your classes, the building is bare and your money is gone. The other part of the scam is that someone

Here are three tips to hopefully help first-time tertiary applicant avoid scams and fly by night colleges:

Application and registration procedure
In the past, the registration process at South African universities has often been full of turmoil – from stampedes to actual tragedy. The current prevalence of student protests, which interrupted registration week earlier this month across the country saw some students protesting others being able to register while other potential students couldn’t afford the minimum initial payment for registration fees. This year, most universities are moving away from on-site registration.

There isn’t anyone who can speed up your online application or registration process for a fee. It’s best to follow the processes.

How to process payments
While applying and registering online, please keep in mind that that online is the only portal that will prompt you to make payment with regard to your registration. Even if you have someone assisting you with the online process, you cannot fill in the paperwork then give that person your registration money.

Each institution has a set minimum initial payment, which differs, based on whether applicants will be living in residence or not. Keep in mind that there isn’t anyone, until fees fall, who is able to financially reduce what the institution requires of you, as the applicant. If the person assisting you with the online process offers to reduce your registration or minimum initial payment, it should be a red flag to you.

The online process will give you the banking information you should use to make direct payment to the institution of learning where you wish to study.

Check accreditation
When potential students do not meet the requirements for university entry or if they are going into a specialist field where practical training is the order, they turn to colleges: either private colleges that focus on specific industries (South Africa has a number of private colleges for media students) or technical colleges that give on-the-job training, there are colleges on every corner ready to take your money in exchange for a “qualification.”

But how do you, as a potential student, know that your qualifications are worth the paper on which they are printed?

South Africa has had a scourge of bogus colleges, popping up early in January, taking people’s registration money and disappearing by the last week of the month. When applying to colleges, keep in mind that all private institutions must be accredited by Umalusi, the education standards council. There is also the problem of institutions offering courses they are not accredited to offer. This means that while an institution may be accredited by Umalusi as legitimate, it is your responsibility to check whether they are accredited to offer the course you are interested in studying. Visit the South African Qualifications Authority website to check which courses the institution is qualified to give.

Dealing directly with institutions, and not middlemen, is the surest way to know that your application and registration is following the correct procedure. Never be afraid to ask to see documentation regarding the college’s registration, accreditation and qualification authorisation.

Written by: Kayafm Digital


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Privacy Policy


POPIA ActTo promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies; to introduce certain conditions so as to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information; to provide for the establishment of an Information Regulator to exercise certain powers and to perform certain duties and functions in terms of this Act and the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000; to provide for the issuing of codes of conduct; to provide for the rights of persons regarding unsolicited electronic communications and automated decision making; to regulate the flow of personal information across the borders of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith.


  • section 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, provides that everyone has the right to privacy;
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  • the State must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights;


  • consonant with the constitutional values of democracy and openness, the need for economic and social progress, within the framework of the information society, requires the removal of unnecessary impediments to the free flow of information, including personal information;


  • regulate, in harmony with international standards, the processing of personal information by public and private bodies in a manner that gives effect to the right to privacy subject to justifiable limitations that are aimed at protecting other rights and important interests,
  1. Definitions and Interpretation

1.1.“Personal Information” means information relating to an identifiable, living, natural person and where it is applicable, identifiable, existing juristic person, including all information as defined in the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013. 

1.2  Parliament assented to POPIA on 19 November 2013. The commencement date of section 1Part A of Chapter 5section 112 and section 113 was 11 April 2014. The commencement date of the other sections was 1 July 2020 (with the exception of section 110 and 114(4). The President of South Africa has proclaimed the POPI commencement date to be 1 July 2020.

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1.4. “Website” means the website of the KAYA 959 at URL or such other URL as KAYA 959 may choose from time to time.   

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2.1. KAYA 959 respects your privacy. This privacy policy statement sets out KAYA 959’s information gathering and dissemination practices in respect of the Website. 

2.2. This Privacy Policy governs the processing of personal information provided to KAYA 959 through your use of the Website. 

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  1. Processing of Personal Information

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3.2. Where you submit Personal Information (such as name, address, telephone number and email address) via the website (e.g. through completing any online form) the following principles are observed in the processing of that information: 

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3.2.2. KAYA 959 will only process personal information in a manner that is adequate, relevant and not excessive in the context of the purpose for which it is processed. 

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3.2.4. KAYA 959 will keep records of all personal Information collected and the specific purpose for which it was collected for a period of 1 (one) year from the date on which it was last used. 

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  1. Queries

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