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No regulation for private colleges

Mon, 15 September 2014 05:35
by Theodor Uukongo

The cost of higher education in Namibia has become a cause of concern for Namibian students especially those at private colleges. While government maintains that there are plans to help curb the exorbitant prices, these plans are seemingly unfolding in slow motion.
The situation is further compounded by the fact that some private colleges operating in Namibia charge more course fees than that of the three Universities in the country. Most of these institutions are accredited by the National Qualifications Authority (NQA) and the Namibia Training Authority (NTA) – ironically both these regulatory institutions do not consider the fees charged by the private educational institutions during the accrediting process.  
“Training institutions decide on their own fees and cost structures. However, the NTA considers the market-relatedness of fees and costs of specific training institutions when it procures training from such institutions. There are no legal restrictions to what an individual training institution can charge for its course offerings” said Manager of Public Relations at NTA, Mornay Louw.
The NTA’s primary objective is to ensure the rendering of quality training services to the Namibian public and to protect the public against “fly-by-night” training institutions who seem eager to charge exorbitant training fees but who fail to offer accredited and recognised programmes and qualifications. Despite this students still seem to be paying high fees.
Although the NQA does not consider the fees charged, they however make sure that the colleges provide information to students that include details of the full costs of the course. This information must include all course-related costs such as trips, and class materials that may be incurred through the course.
Head of the Monotronics Success College, Daniel Nyuangwa has said that their charges are relatively high due to the fact that the college is a franchise and that they have to pay their franchisers in South Africa and Britain.
“Current fees are what they are because 40% goes to Britain and South Africa for the franchises. Examination fees, admin fees, student membership fees are all paid over. In many cases we are left with the college that is not cost effective” he said.
Nyaungwa added that private colleges are not funded and have to pay rentals, amenities, salaries, all of which are costly expenses. Nyaungwa also said that if comparisons are made between private primary and secondary schools fees and what they charge and what private colleges charge it is fractional.
Executive Director of the Namibia Consumer Trust, Michael Gaweseb has said that there are laws the minister of trade and industry can use to restrict the fees. This same law, he said, was used to control the prices of butter in the 90’s. Gaweseb added that students could launch a formal complaint with the Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) to investigate these practices.He however emphasised that students seem reluctant to do so.
 “The system is managed on capitalistic principles and nobody has the guts to correct it. It is more of a so-be-it situation and if students do not follow the right channels they will never be heard and things will not change” he said.
Officials at the Ministry of Education were contacted for comment and indicated that there are plans to introduce measures to curb the fees that colleges are charging.