Damelin, City Varsity and other colleges deregistered in South Africa – what happens next

 ·26 Mar 2024

The Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, has slammed the Educor group for inaction after the group’s Damelin, CityVarsity, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum colleges were deregistered by the department last week.

In a Government Gazette published on 22 March, the Department announced the deregistration of the Educor-owned institutions because the group did not provide the required audited financial statements for the annual reports of 2021 and 2022 – a contravention of the Higher Education Act.

This is not the first time that Educor failed to submit its financial reports. In 2022, the private education supplier was reprimanded and threatened that it would be deregistered after failing to submit its 2020 financial records.

“In addition to failing to submit evidence of their financial viability to the department, the four Educor brands can be deemed as dysfunctional… mainly measured against the daily complaints and grievances received from students, most of which remain unresolved,” said Nzimande in a press conference on Tuesday (26 March).

These include complaints of:

  • Poor quality of teaching and learning;
  • Lack of proper administrative support;
  • Poorly qualified staff;
  • Corruption and bribery;
  • Lack of response for requests for refunds;
  • Lack of professionalism;
  • Exploitation of poor students;
  • Non-payment of staff salaries; and
  • Under-payment of staff salaries.

Nzimande said that among various other concerning issues raised, “one of the complaints I remember receiving was that students were given marks based on exam scripts that were never marked because the lecturers were no longer at work, because they were not being paid.”

“This is the worst sin that can be committed by an education institution – public or private,” he added.

Additionally, Nzimande said that the group had been “misleading” regarding its enrolment figures, claiming to have 50,000 students across four institutions; however, figures indicate that this sits at just over 13,000 in reality.

The minister said that with the information at his disposal, it would be “unconscionable” to maintain the registration status of these four private institutions and allow his department to become complicit in “gross governance and compliance failures”.

Now that the department has deregistered the private colleges, the institutions must:

  • Notify the students within 14 days about the lapse or cancellation of registration;
  • Provide each student with their academic transcripts;
  • Reimburse or compensate students due to the institution’s closure;
  • Arrange for students to complete their programs at equivalent institutions;
  • Cease operations by the end of the academic year to avoid legal penalties; and
  • Refrain from enrolling new students after a specified date.

“There is not much information available about the current leadership structure at Educor, and there is no credible evidence to suggest that the management of Educor is working to improve or correct some of the serious governance and compliance failures I have referred to,” the minister said.

Read: Private schools and universities show strong growth in South Africa

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