The Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) receives over 50 applications each year from prospective college owners wishing to establish business across the country.
This was confirmed by NQA Director Frans Gertze who is however worried by the huge number of unregistered colleges, which have been operating clandestinely without proper documentation. “We process about 50 accreditation applications for new colleges and between 3000-5000 applications for qualification evaluations annually.
However, the processing of these applications have become somewhat challenging to NQA as some individuals fail to provide all relevant documentation needed for processing within the allotted time. It is that delay in getting all the documents in order that sees some college owners rushing to start operations,” he said.
Gertze confirmed that the organisation is inundated by the number of applications from colleges seeking accreditation and students wanting their qualifications evaluated.
“The assumption is that we sit on applications but that is not the case. We try to process all applications for accreditation within a period of six months. Individuals delay the process themselves by not submitting all the required documentation at once and this prolongs the process as we have to carry out necessary investigations,” said Gertze.
He added that the NQA would not give accreditation to colleges that do not meet all requirements, such as having qualified lecturers, necessary training facilities and the relevant course contents.
Once a legitimate college is registered with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Namibia Training Authority, it is expected that they apply for accreditation with the NQA within a six-month period.
Although not all colleges that apply for accreditation will automatically be approved, the NQA according to Gertze is ready to help all the colleges under its radar to improve and achieve the requirements for accreditation.
“We are not saying a registered college cannot operate without accreditation. But, we are saying that such a college should operate under our radar until a point where we can give accreditation to it after meeting the requirements,” explained Gertze.
The NQA says it will not be a spectator while unruly elements offer students unworthy courses at exorbitant prices and this is usually practised by unregistered colleges.
“We are going to go after them; we know that they are putting a curtain and hiding from our radar. What they are doing is illegal and they should be warned that NQA is here to ensure quality education in the country and will not tolerate bogus colleges,” said Gertze.
Gertze advises students who want to study at local colleges or abroad to first contact NQA and find out whether such institutions are accredited and whether their qualifications are recognised by NQA.
“It is really sad for a student who has spent three or four years studying for a qualification to eventually find out that the qualification is not recognised. We want to avoid such incidents happening and as an institution, we have launched a free counselling program for all prospective students to enquire about the accreditation status of their respective colleges,” he said.
Students can download the forms from the NQA website, or visit the organisation offices for answers on the status of their educational institutions within a 24-hour period.
The NQA is planning a campaign between now and February to sensitise local students against fake colleges, a period when most students are likely to fall victims to bogus colleges as the Grade 12 results would have been released.
Gertze maintained that parents should also be on the lookout and scrutinise the institutions which their children study to avoid disappointments.
The NQA is a statutory body tasked with evaluating and regulating qualifications from both local and international students wishing to further their studies in the country and is also tasked with the registration of colleges.