SA cautioned following increase in fake honorary degrees and qualifications

SA cautioned following increase in fake honorary degrees and qualifications

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says people should not be quick to receive qualifications and honorary degrees without verifying the credentials of the institution that is honoring them.

Shauwn Mkhize
Shauwn Mkhize / Instagram

With 2021 academic year almost over, prospective students will be looking for institutions to further their studies. 

Sadly, many students in South Africa have become victims of bogus colleges. 

Not only is it a waste of time to study at a bogus institution, but it is also costly. After many months of studying and paying a lot of money, students from bogus institutions realise that they have been scammed and their qualifications cannot be used. 

But not only are bogus institutions targeting students, some are offering fake honorary degrees to celebrities and prominent people in society in order to attract more students. 

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande has also issued a statement saying he is concerned about the continuing and recently reported cases of bogus institutions awarding honorary doctorates. 

This comes after South African media personality Shauwn Mkhize received an honorary doctorate from a 'bogus' college.

“I have already requested the Council of Higher Education (CHE) to investigate and advise on appropriate action on all the reported cases of the awarding of these bogus honorary degrees,” Nzimande said.

Mkhize was awarded an honorary doctorate from Good Shepherd College of Religion, Culture and Training - a college not registered with the Department of Education.

“Kindly note that the Good Shepherd College of Religion and Training is not registered with the Department as a private higher education institution. We are currently investigating,” Department of Higher Education and Training spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi told IOL.

READ: Shauwn Mkhize and Andile Mpisane bag international award nominations

According to the Department of Higher Education, 'no person other than a public higher education institution or an organ of the state may provide higher education unless that person is registered or conditionally registered with the Department as a private higher education institution.’

Section 65(D) of the Act stipulates that: “No person may offer, award or confer a degree, or a higher education diploma or a higher education certificate, provided for on the Higher Education Qualifications Sub Framework (HEQSF) unless such a degree, diploma or certificate is registered on the sub-framework for higher education on the National Qualifications Framework contemplated in section 7(b) read with section 13(1)(h) of the National Qualifications Act." Section 66 of the Act makes it a criminal offence for an institution to provide higher education without registration.

In 2009, the same college that awarded Shauwn Mkhize with the honorary doctorate reportedly honoured Gospel musician Timothy Myeni of Ncandweni Christ Ambassadors with an honorary doctorate. According to Times of Swaziland, it also honored and conferred Myeni's mother Solomiya and his brother Mzwakhe with Master's Degrees.


Nzimande has urged members of the public to be cautious and not accept qualifications that are from unregistered institutions.

Nzimande has called on those pursuing their studies to ensure that the institution they enrol in is registered with the Department of Higher Education to avoid receiving fake qualifications.

He said students need to first verify the legality of any programme offered by institutions before enrolling, in order to avoid falling prey to illegal operations.

How to check if an institution is legit

Before enrolling into any college, it is advisable to check with the Department of Higher Education and Training by visiting their website at

Another way to check if an institution is registered is to ask for the SAQA NQF identity numbers before enrolling at the institution.

The DHET also has a toll-free number which the public can call to check if an institution is registered. The number is 0800 87 2222.

You can also call the Central Application Clearing House on 0800 356 635.

To show that an institution of higher learning is registered, it is supposed to have a registration certificate. Students and parents are permitted to ask for this certificate and to verify with the DHET. The certificate must include the following information: Name of the institution, the site, the programmes it offers, and the registration period of the institution.

It must also show that it is accredited by the Higher Education Quality Committee.

READ: Higher Education cracks down on bogus colleges in KZN

Image courtesy of Instagram/ @Shauwn Mkhize

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