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Labour Legislation Index

Draft national policy on the misrepresentation of qualifications

DRAFT NATIONAL POLICY ON THE MISREPRESENTATION OF QUALIFICATIONS

Draft for public comment

6 January 2017

Introductory note

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is mandated by the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act, 67 of 2008, to advance the objectives of the NQF, oversee the further development and implementation of the NQF and to co-ordinate the Sub-Frameworks. One of the objectives of the NQF is to facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within education, training, development and work. In this regard Section 13(1) (m) requires SAQA to provide an evaluation and advisory service in respect of foreign qualifications, consistent with the NQF Act.  The NQF Amendment Bill also confirms SAQA’s role in the verification of national qualifications.

To give effect to preserving the integrity of the NQF, and to provide a more complete evaluation and advisory service, SAQA, in consultation with DHET and the Quality Councils, developed this draft Policy on the Misrepresentation of Qualifications.  The Policy defines what is meant by misrepresented qualifications; provides a framework for dealing with individuals and providers who misrepresent qualifications; and defines the roles and responsibilities of the different role-players.

SAQA encourages all stakeholders who directly or indirectly engage with qualifications, are in the education and training sector, in the police services or judiciary, have knowledge of the SA legal system, are employers, or have an interest in curbing the proliferation of misrepresented qualifications, to engage with this draft Policy and submit comments to SAQA within 30 days of its publication.

Comments should be sent to Ms Nireen Naidoo, Director: Office of the CEO ()

Joe Samuels

Chief Executive Officer

 

Table of Contents

1.    GLOSSARY OF TERMS

2.    BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

3.    PURPOSE

4.    SCOPE

5.    OBJECTIVES

6.    UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES

7.    LEGISLATIVE ENVIRONMENT

8.    AUTHENTIC QUALIFICATIONS

8.1 SOUTH  AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS

8.2 FOREIGN QUALIFICATIONS 

9.    MISREPRESENTED QUALIFICATIONS 

10.      RESPONSIBILITIES OF NQF PARTNERS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC  WITH RESPECT TO MISREPRESENTED QUALIFICATIONS 

10.1 THE QUALITY COUNCILS (QCs) 

10.2 SETAS AND ASSESSMENT QUALITY PARTNERS (AQPs) 

10.3 SOUTH  AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY (SAQA) 

10.4 THE DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER  EDUCATION AND TRAINING (DHET) 

10.5 OTHER  GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS AND STATE OWNED  ENTITIES 

10.6 PRIVATE QUALIFICATIONS VERIFICATION BODIES

11.      MEASURES TO PREVENT THE MISREPRESENTATION OF QUALIFICATIONS

1.    PROCEDURES

1.1 THE QUALITY COUNCILS (QCs) 

1.2 SAQA 

1.2.1 Investigating cases of alleged  qualification misrepresentation

1.2.2 Managing incidents of misrepresented qualifications reported to it by the QCs 

1.2.3 Hearing  appeals 

1.2.4 Maintaining the Register  of Misrepresented Qualifications and providers operating outside  of the NQF (RMQP)  and reporting to the Minister: HET

1.3 CRITERIA FOR THE REMOVAL OF NAMES  FROM THE RMQP 

1.3.1 INDIVIDUALS 

1.3.2 PROVIDERS 

2. EXCLUSIONS 

2.1 VICTIMS OF UNSCRUPULOUS PROVIDERS 

2.2 SUSPICIOUS QUALIFICATIONS FROM INSTITUTIONS THAT NO LONGER  EXIST 

2.3 FOREIGN INSTITUTIONS THAT APPEAR  TO BE ACTING  UNSCRUPULOUSLY 

LIST OF ACRONMYMS 

 

PART A: DRAFT  NATIONAL POLICY  ON THE MISREPRESENTATION OF QUALIFICATIONS

1.          GLOSSARY OF TERMS

The purpose  of this glossary  is to define the terminology used in developing this policy document.

Accredited provider” means a legally established institution (public or private)  that has been recognised, usually for a particular  period of time, by a Quality Council  or its appointed agent, as having the capacity  or provisional capacity  to offer a qualification or part- qualification registered on the NQF at the required  standard.

Appeal” means the formal petitioning, by an applicant  (the qualification holder),  against  the decision  made by SAQA, regarding the recognition of a foreign qualification or the verification of a South African qualification.

Assessment Quality Partner  (AQP)”  means a body delegated by the QCTO to manage and coordinate the external  integrated summative assessments of specified  NQF-registered occupational qualifications and part-qualifications.

Authentic qualification” means that the qualification must be:

(i)      registered on the NQF; and

(ii)     Offered  by a registered and accredited provider.  This criterion  means that:

        Providers that offer qualifications and/or part-qualifications registered on the HEQSF  must be registered as a higher education provider  by the DHET and accredited by the CHE;

        Providers that offer qualifications and/or part-qualifications registered on the GFETQSF must be registered by the DHET as a private college  and be accredited by Umalusi;  and

        Providers that offer qualifications and/or part-qualifications registered on the OQSF must be registered by the DHET as a private  education and training provider  and be accredited by the QCTO or by a body to whom the QCTO has delegated its quality assurance function.

Authentic qualification (Foreign)” means a foreign qualification/part-qualification that meets the following  criteria:

(i)    The provider  must be an educational institution that is registered, accredited or recognised in a national  system  other than South Africa and in accordance with the national  policies,  or generally  accepted  practice  of that country;  and

(ii)   The qualification/part-qualification must be registered/accredited/recognised in that country.

“Comparison” means a process  which entails comparing foreign qualifications with South African qualifications, considering the structure  and outcomes of foreign qualifications and locating  them within the South African  NQF.

“Council on Higher  Education (CHE)”  means an independent statutory  body responsible for advising  the Minister:  HET on all Higher Education policy issues,  and for quality assurance in Higher Education. The CHE is the council for quality assurance in Higher Education, mandated by the NQF Act, No. 67 of 2008, to achieve  the objectives of the NQF and to develop  and manage  the HEQSF.

“Degree  Mill” means a provider  operating outside  of the South African NQF or a foreign institution that is not operating within any national  education system  outside  of South Africa, and that usually exhibit the following  characteristics. They:

(i)   Lack legal authority  to operate  as higher education institutions or award degrees;

(ii) Require  little if any attendance, either on-site or online;

(iii) Require  little if any coursework, or few if any assignments to obtain a credential;

(iv) Do not provide  information about location  of incorporation, ownership or governance; (v)  Provide  little or no contact  information other than a telephone number  or email address;

(vi) Publish  false or exaggerated claims of external  quality review (accreditation or quality assurance);

(vii) Issue degrees  that are not accepted  for licensing  or entry into graduate  or professional programmes in the degree mill’s home country;

(viii) List academic staff whose degrees  were issued by degree mills or are unable to provide  verifiable  lists of academic staff and their qualifications;

(ix) Plagiarise material  from legitimate institutions for inclusion  on degree mill websites; (x) Feature  websites  with internet  domain  registration that is obscured  by privacy service rather than being publicly  accessible; and

(xi) There is usually little more than a financial  transaction in exchange for a certificate of award.

“Evaluation of foreign qualifications” means the process  followed  by SAQA to verify the authenticity of foreign qualifications and to compare  foreign qualifications with South African qualifications so as to locate the foreign qualification within the SA NQF.

“Foreign institution” means an education institution that is registered, accredited or recognised in a national  education and training  system other than South Africa and in accordance with the national  policies,  or generally  accepted  practice  of that country.

“Foreign qualification” means a qualification offered  by an awarding  institution that is registered, accredited or recognised in an education and training  system  other than South Africa, and in accordance with the national  policies  or generally  accepted  practice  of that country.

“Fraudulent qualification” means a qualification that is not authentic  and has been so pronounced by a court of law.

“General and Further  Education and Training  Qualifications Sub-Framework (GFETQSF)” means the Sub-Framework of the NQF for General  and Further  Education and Training  that is developed and managed by Umalusi.

“Higher  Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF)” means the Sub-Framework of the NQF for Higher Education that is developed and managed by the Council  on Higher Education (CHE).

“Misrepresentation” means an incorrect  statement of fact or law made by one person to another.   A qualification/part-qualification has been misrepresented if:

(i)         It does not meet the criteria to be an authentic  qualification;

(ii)        The certificate of award was not issued by the provider;

(iii)       An individual alters the certificate of award or the SAQA Certification of Evaluation for a qualification; and

(iv)       An individual offers for any reason,  a qualification that was obtained  from a degree mill.

“National Learners’ Records  Database (NLRD)”  means the electronic management information system  of the NQF under the authority  of SAQA,  which contains  records  of qualifications, part-qualifications, learner achievements, recognised professional bodies, professional designations and all related  information such as registrations and accreditations

“National Qualifications Framework (NQF)” means the comprehensive system approved by the Minister:  HET for the classification, co-ordination, registration, publication and articulation of quality-assured national  qualifications and part-qualifications. The South African NQF is a single integrated system comprising three coordinated Qualifications Sub- Frameworks for: General  and Further  Education and Training;  Higher Education; and Trades and Occupations.

“Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF)”  means the Sub-Framework of the NQF for Trades and Occupations that is developed and managed by the Quality Council  for Trades  and Occupations (QCTO).

“Part-Qualification” means an assessed unit of learning  with a clearly defined  purpose  that is, or will be, registered as part of a qualification on the NQF.

“Private  college”  means a private institution that is established or declared  as a private college  and registered under the Further  Education and Training  Colleges  Amendment Act, No. 1 of 2013.

“Provider (Public)” means a state or partially  state-funded body that offers any education or training  programme that leads to a qualification or part-qualification registered on the NQF.  They include  universities, community education and training  colleges  and public workplace providers.

“Provider (Private)” means a non-state-funded body that offers any education or training programme that leads to a qualification or part-qualification registered on the NQF, and that meets the minimum  criteria set by the DHET for providers  that are allowed  to operate  in South Africa. Registration is a pre-requisite for accreditation by the relevant  Quality Council.

“Provider” for the purposes  of the Policy,  means a public or private body operating in South Africa, and offering  any education or training  programme that leads to a qualification or part- qualification registered on the NQF.  Providers of other learning  initiatives  that are not qualifications or part-qualifications are excluded, on condition  that no reference relating  to the NQF is made in the product  offering  or marketing thereof.

“Providers operating outside  of the South African  NQF” means providers  that: (i)   Are not registered with the DHET;

(ii)  Are not accredited by a Quality Council;

(iii) Are not accredited to offer the qualification in question;

(iv) Mislead  the public by making  false claims about their programmes; or

(v)  Are degree mills.

“Qualification” means a registered national  qualification consisting of a planned combination of learning  outcomes which has a defined  purpose  or purposes, intended  to provide  qualifying learners  with applied  competence and a basis for further learning  and which has been assessed in terms of exit level outcomes, registered on the NQF and certified  and awarded  by a recognised body.

“Qualification award”  means the formal acknowledgement of achievement of the stated learning  outcomes for a qualification by the relevant  authority.

“Qualifications framework” means a system for classification, registration, publication and articulation of quality-assured qualifications.

“Quality  Council  (QC)” means one of the three Councils  tasked with developing and managing each of the Sub-Frameworks of the NQF in order to ensure that agreed quality standards are met: CHE for the HEQSF;  Umalusi  for the GFETQSF; and QCTO for the OQSF.

“Quality  Council  for Trades  and Occupations (QCTO)”  means the Quality Council  for Trades  and Occupations that was established in terms of the NQF Act, No. 67 of 2008, mandated to achieve  the objectives of the NQF and to develop  and manage  the OQSF.

“Recognition agreement” means a formal arrangement, signed between  two or more countries  at a designated political  level, confirming the intent to mutually  recognise each other’s qualifications and outlining  the agreed mechanisms and responsibilities.

“Recognition of a foreign  qualification” means the formal acceptance of the appropriateness of a foreign qualification for a specific  purpose.

“Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)” means the principles and processes through  which the prior knowledge and skills of a person are made visible, mediated  and assessed for the purposes  alternative access and admission, recognition and certification, or further learning and development.

“Register of Fraudulent Qualifications” means a Register  containing the names and details of the offence  of individuals and providers  who have been found guilty by a court of law of holding  or issuing  at least one fraudulent qualification.

“Register of Misrepresented Qualifications and Providers operating outside  of the South African  NQF (RMQP)” means a Register  comprising two parts:

(i)   Part A comprises a list of individuals who have misrepresented their qualifications; and

(ii)  Part B comprises a list of providers  that have operated  outside  of the South African NQF.

An individual or provider’s name will be entered  into the RMQP after the misrepresentation has been confirmed by SAQA or one of the Quality Councils.

“Registration of a qualification or part-qualification” means the formal inclusion  of a qualification or part-qualification by SAQA on the NQF, with an identification of the relevant Sub-Framework, when a qualification or part-qualification meets the SAQA Policy and Criteria for the Registration of Qualifications and Part-Qualifications on the NQF, and as recommended by the relevant  QC.

“Revocation” means the action taken to invalidate or cause to no longer be in effect, as by voiding  or cancelling (a SAQA Certificate of Evaluation and the recognition decision  it conveys).

“SAQA Certificate of Evaluation” means a certificate issued by SAQA indicating the authenticity of the foreign qualification and its location  on the NQF.

“Sector  Education and Training  Authority (SETA):  means a body established in terms of the Skills Development Act, No. 97 of 1998, to develop  and implement sector skills plans and promote  learning  programmes, including  workplace learning.   The QCTO has delegated quality assurance powers  to the SETAs.

“South  African  Qualifications Authority (SAQA)”  means the statutory  authority established in terms of the SAQA Act, No. 58 of 1995, and continuing in terms of the NQF Act, No. 67 of 2008, which oversees  the further development and implementation of the NQF, the achievement of the objectives of the NQF, and the co-ordination of the three Sub- Frameworks.

“Sub-Framework of the NQF” means one of three co-ordinated Qualifications Sub- Frameworks which make up the South African NQF as a single integrated system,  namely the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework (HEQSF), the General  and Further Education and Training  Qualifications Sub-Framework (GFETQSF) and the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF).

“Umalusi” means the Quality Council  for General  and Further  Education and Training established by the GENFETQA Act, No. 58 of 2001.  In terms of the NQF Act, No. 67 of 2008, it is tasked to support  the achievement of the objectives of the NQF and to develop and manage  the GFETQSF.

“Verification of a foreign  qualification” means the process  followed  by SAQA to check the authenticity of a foreign qualification. Verification includes  authenticating the status of the foreign institution and the qualifications offered by them, investigating the authenticity of qualification documentation and verifying  that the qualification was awarded  to the individual in question.

“Verification of a national  qualification” means the process  followed  by SAQA to verify a South African qualification.

2.          BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

a.  Media exposure  of high ranking  officials  claiming  to hold qualifications that they were not awarded  or for which they did not enrol, has created  greater public awareness around misrepresented qualifications. Universities are faced with prospective students  who submit, as proof of fulfilment  of admission requirements, qualifications that they have not rightfully earned.   In addition,  degree mills continue  to operate  unabated.  As soon as one is shut down, another  mushrooms in its place.

b.  Qualifications fraud is not only a South African phenomenon, but also poses a global challenge.

c.  Apart from being illegal, the misrepresentation of qualifications has other serious implications.   People are appointed to positions  based on their false qualifications, which raises questions around their competence to hold these positions.  In more senior positions, the safety of ordinary  citizens  and employees, the long-term viability  and profitability of organisations, and public service  delivery  rest in these fraudsters’ hands.

d.  The stigma of being associated with fraudulent qualifications can lead to negative perceptions about the provider  purported to have awarded  the qualification, about South Africa and the NQF, and result in reputational damage  insofar as skills development, the portability of NQF qualifications to other countries  and the competitiveness of South Africa in the world economy  are concerned.

e.  The Department of Public Service  and Administration (DPSA)  issued an amended Directive on the Verification of Public Service  Employees’ Qualifications by SAQA.   This Directive came into effect on 1 October  2015 and compels  national  and provincial government departments to verify the qualifications of all current  and prospective employees.

f.  The NQF Amendment Bill (when it comes into effect) will provide  for the establishment of the Register  of Misrepresented Qualifications and Providers operating outside  of the South African NQF.  This Register  will be published periodically and should act as a deterrent  to individuals and providers  who are contemplating misrepresenting their qualifications or operating outside  of the NQF.

3.          PURPOSE

a.  The purpose  of this Policy is to:

(i)       Define what is meant by misrepresented qualifications;

(ii)       Provide  a  framework for  dealing  with  individuals and  providers   who  misrepresent qualifications; and

(iii)       Define the roles and responsibilities of the different  role-players.

b.  The Policy includes:

(i)         Definitions of terminology used in the context  of this Policy;

(ii)         The   legislative  environment  pertaining  to  the   Policy   and   a  description  of  the legislative amendments required  to enable the Policy to be implemented;

(iii)         The different  categories and types of actions  by individuals and providers  that can be construed as qualification misrepresentation;

(iv)         The requirements for inclusion  on the Register  of Misrepresented Qualifications and Providers operating outside  of the South African NQF (RMQP),  of individuals found to have misrepresented their qualifications or obtained  their qualifications from a degree mill;

(v)         The requirements for inclusion  on the RMQP,  of providers  operating outside  of the South African NQF;

(vi)         The requirements for inclusion  on the Register  of Fraudulent Qualifications, of the names and details of individuals and providers  found guilty of qualifications fraud by a court of law;

(vii)         Description of the processes to be followed  when a qualification is suspected of having been misrepresented:

      The   process   applied   to  confirm   cases   of  misrepresentation  and   to  deal   with confirmed cases of misrepresentation;

         The process  to deal with foreign  qualifications where  the definition/ understanding of fraud/  misrepresentation in the foreign  country  is different  to that of South Africa and where the nature of the foreign institution differs from those in South Africa;

         The process  to handle qualifications that have been issued by foreign  institutions that no longer exist; and

      Measures to deal with exceptions and exclusions.

(viii)         The respective roles and responsibilities of the different  bodies involved;

(ix)         The mechanism(s) available  to individuals and providers  who have been identified  as having  misrepresented qualifications, to respond  to the claim before  their names  are added to the RMQP;  and

(x)         The  appeals  process  available  to  individuals and  providers   whose  details  already appear  on the RMQP.

4.          SCOPE

a.  This Policy covers:

(i)       All cases of qualification misrepresentation by individuals living in, who have studied in or who want to live/ work/ study in South Africa; and

(ii)       Providers who operate  in South Africa and have flouted the legislation/ regulations that pertain to registration, accreditation, the issuing of certificates and/or marketing of qualification offerings.

b.  It should be noted that SAQA reserves  the right to decide on which foreign qualifications and foreign institutions to recognise.  SAQA is guided by the Policy and Criteria for the Recognition of Foreign  Qualifications in the South African NQF and bilateral  recognition agreements that the South African government has signed with foreign nations,  but is under no obligation to recognise any foreign qualification or provider.

5.          OBJECTIVES

The objectives of this Policy are to:

(i)       Establish  the Register  of Misrepresented Qualifications and Providers Operating outside  of the South African NQF (RMQP);

(ii)       Define the responsibilities of NQF partners  who suspect/confirm that a qualification has been misrepresented;

(iii)       Indicate  the rules governing the inclusion  on and removal  from the RMQP;

(iv)       Outline the responsibilities of private qualification verification agencies  and the private sector when confronted with a misrepresented qualification;

(v)       Outline the proposed role and responsibilities of the South African Police Services (SAPS)  in investigating cases of misrepresentation and providing  feedback  on progress  with investigations;

(vi)       Outline the proposed role and responsibilities of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in prosecuting cases of misrepresented qualifications and providing  information about individuals and providers  convicted of fraud relating  to qualifications; and

(vii)       Outline  SAQA’s  co-ordinating role in dealing  with misrepresented and fraudulent qualifications.

6.          UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES

The following  principles underpin  this Policy:

(i)       A person and/or provider  are confirmed to have misrepresented qualifications or a provider  has operated  outside  of the South African  NQF if supporting evidence  can show this to be true.  The person’s  name and details,  or details about the provider with the relevant  timeframes of non-compliance (if applicable) are published in the RMQP.

(ii)       A person and/or provider  are guilty of qualification fraud only when convicted by a court of law.  Details about the person and/or provider  are entered  into the Register of Fraudulent Qualifications with details of the court sentencing and relevant timeframes.

(iii)       Where qualifications are submitted for verification either by individuals or by prospective employees, the qualification holder must be informed  of the process  and give written consent  to have his/her name included  in the RMQP if he/she has misrepresented his/her qualifications, or where the provider,  through  which the qualification was obtained,  is found to be a degree mill.

(iv)       Innocent  parties may not be unnecessarily punished  because  of the unscrupulous actions  of other parties.

(v)       All parties involved  in the investigation of possible  qualification misrepresentation must be informed  of:

  • The pending  investigation,
  • Possible  action in the case of a confirmed finding,
  • Their right to make representation to the proceedings, and
  • Their right to appeal the findings  of the investigation.

(vi)       Both registers  will be made public by SAQA.

7.          LEGISLATIVE ENVIRONMENT

a.   The following  legislation is pertinent  to the development and implementation of this policy:

(i)       The Constitution of the Republic  of South Africa,1996;

(ii)       The NQF Act, No. 67 of 2008;

(iii)       The Higher Education Act, No. 101 of 1997;

(iv)       The Protection of Personal  Information Act, No. 4 of 2013;

(v)       The Promotion of Access  to Information Act, No. 2 of 2000; and

(vi)       The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, No 3 of 2000.

In addition,  this Policy is part of the suite of NQF policies  that were published by SAQA.   Of particular  relevance are the following  SAQA policies:

(i)      Policy and Criteria for the Registration of Qualifications and Part-Qualifications on the National  Qualifications Framework;

(ii)      Policy and Criteria for Evaluating Foreign  Qualifications within the South African NQF;

(iii)     Revised  Foreign  Qualifications Evaluation Appeals  Policy;

(iv)     Verification Appeals  Policy; and

(v)     Foreign  Qualifications Revocation Policy.

b.   The Draft NQF Amendment Bill compels  Quality Councils  and private verification agencies to report all cases of misrepresented qualifications as defined  by the Policy, to SAQA.

c.   The NQF Amendment Bill also allows for the publication of the names and details of individuals who have misrepresented their qualifications.

d.   The NQF Act should be further strengthened to obligate  all providers  offering  learning  that results in the award of qualifications and/or part-qualifications, to load all learner records onto the National  Learners’ Records  Database (NLRD).   The Quality Councils  are already obliged  to do so.

 e.   There should be a legal obligation that compels  the Department of Justice to report to SAQA the outcomes of court cases involving  fraudulent qualifications on a regular basis.

8.          AUTHENTIC QUALIFICATIONS

8.1 SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS

a.     For an Individual to be holding  a qualification/part-qualification that is authentic, the following  criteria must all be met:

(i)           The qualification must be registered on the NQF;

(ii)           The qualification must be offered by a registered and accredited provider;

(iii)          The individual must have enrolled  for the qualification/part-qualification and have met the entrance  requirements or been admitted  to the qualification/part- qualification through  RPL;

(iv)          The individual must have completed the qualification/part-qualification and have met the criteria for the awarding  of the qualification/part-qualification either through successfully completing the summative assessments, or through  RPL, or through a combination of assessment and RPL; and

(v)          The individual must have been awarded  the qualification/part-qualification by the relevant  awarding  body e.g. the accredited higher education provider  in the case of HEQSF  qualifications, by Umalusi  in the case of GFETQSF qualifications or by the QCTO in the case of OQSF qualifications.

b.  If the provider  is no longer in business, confirmation may be sought from the records  of the provider  available  to SAQA or to any other approved agency  (e.g. Umalusi,  DHET, and the HSRC),  on condition  that the provider  was recognised by SAQA or an approved agency.

c.  For awards  of qualifications/part-qualifications that cannot be verified,  no decision  can be taken about its authenticity.  A statement must be provided  to the effect that the qualification was approved by an agency recognised by SAQA, but records  about the qualification award and its holder cannot be located.

8.2 FOREIGN QUALIFICATIONS

a.  For an individual to hold an authentic  foreign qualification/part qualification the following criteria must be met:

(i)      The qualification/part qualification must meet the criteria to be declared  authentic;

(ii)   The individual must have enrolled  for the qualification/part-qualification by meeting  the entrance  requirements for that qualification/part qualification;

(iii)   The individual must have satisfied  the criteria for the awarding  of the qualification/part- qualification; and

(iv)   The awarding  of the qualification/part-qualification to the individual must be confirmed by the relevant  foreign institution.

b.  For foreign qualifications/part-qualifications that cannot be verified and its award to the individual purporting to hold that qualification/part qualification cannot be confirmed, no decision  can be taken about its authenticity.  A statement should be provided  to the effect that details about the qualification and/or the holder cannot be located.  SAQA reserves  the right to refuse to recognise any foreign provider  and/or qualification.

9.          MISREPRESENTED QUALIFICATIONS

a.  A qualifications/part-qualification has been misrepresented if:

(i)         It does not meet the criteria to be an authentic  qualification;

(ii)        The certificate of award was not issued by the provider;

(iii)       An individual alters the certificate of award or the SAQA Certification of Evaluation for a qualification; and

(iv)       An individual offers for any reason,  a qualification that was obtained  from a degree mill.

b.  A provider  has misrepresented a qualification/part-qualification if the provider:

(i)         Fails to inform the learners  that (a) the qualification/part qualification is not registered on the NQF or (b) the provider  is not accredited by the relevant  Quality Council  to offer the qualification/part-qualification; or

(ii)        Misleads  the public in the marketing of a qualification/part-qualification.

10.         RESPONSIBILITIES OF NQF PARTNERS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC  WITH RESPECT TO MISREPRESENTED QUALIFICATIONS

a.  The NQF Act and related legislation, by implication, requires  SAQA and the NQF partners to uphold the integrity  of, and act against  threats to, the NQF.  It is incumbent upon SAQA and the Quality Councils  to take action against  providers  and individuals who misrepresent qualifications.   Such actions  will also act as a deterrent  to those considering misrepresenting their qualifications.

b.  It is imperative that all applications submitted for the verification of qualifications must contain  a statement signed by the qualification holder indicating that s/he understands that, should her/his qualification(s) be found to be misrepresented or from a degree mill, then her/his name will be included  in the RMQP.

10.1 THE QUALITY  COUNCILS (QCs)

The QCs must:

(i)       Investigate all suspected cases of qualification misrepresentation related to qualifications on their respective sub-frameworks and providers  accredited by them;

(ii)       Inform all relevant  parties of:

  • The intention  of the QC to further investigate possible  qualification misrepresentation;
  • Their right to make submissions to the QC;
  • The outcome  of the investigation; and
  • Their right to appeal the decisions.

(iii)       Appoint  a committee to consider  the evidence  surrounding an alleged  case and make a decision  for consideration by the QC CEO;

(iv)       Keep a list of all cases of suspected qualification misrepresentation related to their qualifications sub-framework and accredited providers;

(v)       Develop  the knowledge and skills of staff to be able to identify and investigate misrepresented qualifications;

(vi)       Confirm  cases of misrepresentation related to qualifications on their respective sub- frameworks or by providers  accredited by them;

(vii)       Report cases of misrepresentation to the South African Police Services  (SAPS)  for further investigation and possible  prosecution;

(viii)        Recommend to the DHET to withdraw  the provider  registration where appropriate; and

(ix)       Report all cases of misrepresentation every two months  to SAQA in accordance with SAQA’s  reporting  schedule. The report must include:

         All information on the matter;

         Where a decision  has been reached,  whether  or not a charge  was laid with the SAPS;

         A recommendation for the inclusion  of the name of the individual/provider  in the RMQP;  and

         Any other action that should be taken.

10.2 SETAS AND ASSESSMENT QUALITY  PARTNERS (AQPs)

SETAs  and AQPs must:

(i)       Inform the QCTO of any suspected cases of qualification misrepresentation involving qualifications that they quality assure or providers  they have accredited on behalf of the QCTO,  within 5 working  days of them becoming aware of them; and

(ii)       Render  the necessary assistance to the QCTO in the latter’s investigation of the cases.

10.3 SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY (SAQA)

SAQA must:

(i)       Investigate and confirm  cases of misrepresentation that are reported  directly  to it or by the DHET and decide on the course of action to be taken;

(ii)       Confirm  the findings  of qualification misrepresentation reported  by private verification agencies  by adhering  to the process  outlined  in 10.1 for QCs above;

(iii)       Establish  an Appeals  Committee to consider  appeals  against  the decision  to add the name of an individual or provider  to the RMQP;

(iv)       Compile  and communicate the schedule  for reporting  cases of qualification misrepresentation and circulate  it to QCs, private qualification verification bodies and the DHET;

(v)       Co-ordinate the actions of all involved  in this process;

(vi)       Act as a sounding  board to the QCs on challenging cases;

(vii)       Manage  the process  of appeals  lodged by individuals / providers  whose names appear  in the RMQP;

(viii)        Maintain  the RMQP by entering  and removing  information as required; (ix)       Provide  the Minister  bi-monthly, with an updated  RMQP;

(x)       Receive  information from the Department of Justice,  about individuals and providers who have been convicted of qualifications fraud;

(xi)       Maintain  the Register  of Fraudulent Qualifications by entering  and removing  names of offenders as per the court rulings;  and

(xii)       Provide  the updated  Register  of Fraudulent Qualifications to the Minister  bi-monthly.

10.4 THE DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER  EDUCATION AND TRAINING (DHET)

The DHET must:

(i)       Request  the relevant  QC or SAQA to investigate suspected cases of misrepresentation by individuals that it is aware of;

(ii)       Investigate or request  the relevant  QC to investigate suspected cases of misrepresentation by providers;

(iii)       Inform SAQA of the details of the providers  that it has confirmed to be operating outside  of the South African  NQF, for inclusion  in the RMQP;

(iv)       Report these cases to the SAPS for further investigation and possible  prosecution; and

(v)       Consider  SAQA and/or the QCs’ recommendations to withdraw  the registration of providers  who have misrepresented qualifications or been convicted of fraud related to qualifications.

10.5 OTHER GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS AND STATE OWNED  ENTITIES

a.  These departments and bodies must inform SAQA / the relevant  QC of any cases of misrepresented qualifications that they become  aware of and provide  as much information as possible  to assist SAQA / the QC to investigate further;

b.  Consider  the recommendations made by SAQA with respect  to the outcome  of the verification process  of employees or prospective employees’ qualifications; and

c.  Lay charges  of fraud where appropriate, with the SAPS against  offenders in cases that it investigates itself.

10.6 PRIVATE QUALIFICATIONS VERIFICATION BODIES

a.  These bodies must inform SAQA regularly  of all cases of qualification misrepresentation for inclusion  on the RMQP; and

b.  They must lay charges/ensure that their clients lay charges  against  offenders with the SAPS, where appropriate.

11.        MEASURES TO PREVENT THE MISREPRESENTATION OF QUALIFICATIONS

a.  The existence and strict application of this Policy, coupled  with listing of offenders in the RMQP and Register  of Fraudulent Qualifications and its publication on SAQA’s  website, will be strong deterrents to those contemplating qualification misrepresentation and fraud.

b.  In addition,  advocacy campaigns across media platforms  that draw attention  to the existence of the RMQP and the Register  of Fraudulent Qualifications should drive the message  home. The target for the campaigns should be the general public, education and training  providers  and employers.

PART B: PROCEDURE FOR IMPLEMENTING THE POLICY  ON THE MISREPRESENTATION OF QUALIFICATIONS

1.   PROCEDURES

1.1 THE QUALITY  COUNCILS (QCs)

The procedure for QCs to deal with alleged  cases of qualification misrepresentation is as follows:

(i)       Details of the case of suspected qualifications misrepresentation is entered  in the relevant  QC’s List of Misrepresented Qualifications;

(ii)       The CEO will appoint  a staff member  to investigate the case;

(iii)       The CEO (or his/her designate) will inform the qualification holder and applicant  that an investigation of qualification misrepresentation is being conducted, giving the details of the alleged offence  and requesting further information from the individual and/or provider  to assist in the investigation;

(iv)       The case is investigated and the information from the qualification holder/applicant/provider  is considered;

(v)       A report with supporting documents is submitted to the CEO for consideration;

(vi)       The CEO makes a decision  on the matter. The decision  could be that:

         The individual is innocent  and the investigation is closed;

            There is insufficient evidence  for a finding of misrepresentation so the investigation is closed;

            The individual is an innocent  victim of circumstances beyond  his/her control and the investigation is closed;

         The individual is an innocent  victim of unscrupulous provision  by a provider  and therefore  is not guilty of misrepresentation, but the provider  is. The provider’s name is recommended to SAQA for addition  to the RMQP;

         The individual obtained  his/her qualification from a degree mill and is therefore guilty of misrepresentation and his/her name is recommended to SAQA for inclusion in the RMQP;  or

            The individual and/or provider  is guilty of misrepresentation and their names  are recommended to SAQA for inclusion  in the RMQP.

(vii)       The CEO informs  the relevant  individual/provider of the outcome  of the investigation and, where applicable, of the recommendation that their names be added to the RMQP;

(viii)        The individuals/providers are made aware that they may appeal to SAQA against  the outcome  and are directed  to the Appeals  Process  that should be followed;

(ix)       Details of the misrepresentation are submitted to SAQA ;

(x)       Supporting documents are filed for possible  future reference and sent to SAQA in cases where appeals  have been lodged with SAQA;

(xi)       Individuals/providers who were found to have misrepresented qualifications must be reported  by the CEO to the SAPS for further investigation and possible  prosecution; and

(xii)       A recommendation is made to DHET to withdraw  registration of the provider  if appropriate.

1.2 SAQA

SAQA is involved  in the process  in the following  ways:

(i)       Investigating alleged cases of misrepresented qualifications that are reported  directly to it or which it becomes  aware of;

(ii)       Recording the cases of misrepresented qualifications reported  to it by the QCs and other departments and agencies;

(iii)       Considering appeals  lodged by individuals/providers whose names appear  on the RMQP;  and

(iv)       Maintaining the RMQP as well as the Register  of Fraudulent Qualifications and reporting  regularly  on its contents  to the Minister:  HET.

1.2.1 Investigating cases of alleged qualification misrepresentation

This process  is the same as that followed  by the QCs.

1.2.2 Managing incidents of misrepresented qualifications reported to it by the QCs

a.  When SAQA receives  its bi-monthly report from the QCs:

(i)       Details of the individual/provider will be entered  into the RMQP;  and

(ii)        A report is generated for the Minister:  HET for publication in the Government Gazette.

1.2.3 Hearing appeals

The appeals  process  is as follows:

(i)      An appeal against  the decision  must be submitted to the SAQA CEO in writing within 60 days of the date on the letter sent by the relevant  CEO of the QC informing  them of the decision.  The appeal should contain the necessary support  documentation.

(ii)        SAQA has an existing  Appeals  Committee. The CEO of the relevant  QC will be invited to provide  additional information for appeals  involving  investigations conducted by that QC, where necessary.

(iii)       Acknowledgement of receipt of the appeal must be made to the appellant  within 48 hours of receipt.

(iv)       The Appeals  Committee must meet within 30 days of receipt of the appeal.

(v)       The Appeals  Committee may request  the appellant  or anyone  else deemed necessary to make representation either in writing or in person to the Committee.

(vi)       The decision  of the Appeals  Committee must be communicated in writing to the appellant  within 3 days of the decision  being taken. The appellant  must also be informed  that a final appeal may be made to the Minister:  HET whose decision  will be final.

(vii)       Should an appeal be lodged with the Minister:  HET, the decision  of the Minister:  HET must be conveyed to SAQA who will implement the decision.

1.2.4 Maintaining the Register of Misrepresented Qualifications and providers operating outside of the NQF (RMQP) and reporting to the Minister: HET

a.  The names of individuals/providers who have misrepresented qualifications are entered into the RMQP.

b.  The Register  is updated  bi-monthly as information is received  from QCs.

c.  The Register  of Fraudulent Qualifications is updated  as information is received  from SAPS with respect  to cases finalised  and sentences handed  down in a court of law.

d.  Both Registers are provided  to the Minister  bi-monthly and published on SAQA’s  website.

1.3 CRITERIA FOR THE REMOVAL OF NAMES FROM THE RMQP

1.3.1 INDIVIDUALS

a.  Names  of individuals will be removed  from the RMQP if they had succeeded in their appeal against  the SAQA/QC decision  to include their names in the RMQP.

b.  The individual’s record in the RMQP may be amended if the individual later obtains  the exact same qualification that s/he had previously falsely claimed  to hold.

1.3.2 PROVIDERS

The RMQP will be amended in the case of providers  that:

(i)       Falsely claimed  to be registered and/or accredited providers  and who are subsequently registered and/or accredited. The register  will show the dates when the provider  operated  illegally  and the date from which it operated  legally;  and

(ii)       Falsely claimed  that their qualifications or part-qualifications were registered and/or accredited and were subsequently registered and/or accredited. The register  will show the dates when the qualifications were not registered and/or accredited and the date from which they were registered and/or accredited.

2. EXCLUSIONS

An individual will not be regarded  as having misrepresented a qualification if:

(i)       He/she  presents  a qualification for which the details of- and/or confirmation that it was awarded  to the individual in question-  cannot be confirmed; and

(ii)       Mistakes  were made by the provider  and/or the relevant  Quality Assuring  Body and/or SAQA regarding the details of the award holder on a qualification certificate or a SAQA Certificate of Evaluation.

2.1 VICTIMS  OF UNSCRUPULOUS PROVIDERS

a.  The provision  of education and training  courses  by unscrupulous providers  results in many unsuspecting victims investing  time and money into what is later found to be non-authentic/ unaccredited qualifications. These individuals will not have their names published in the RMQP as it is through  no fault of their own other than their ignorance that they find themselves in this situation.   Their qualifications will, however,  be flagged  on the National Learners’ Records  Database (NLRD)  as being unaccredited.

b.  No mercy must be shown to individuals who obtain qualifications from degree mills as they know that they did not study towards  obtaining  a qualification. Their details will be entered into the RMQP.

2.2 SUSPICIOUS QUALIFICATIONS FROM INSTITUTIONS THAT NO LONGER  EXIST

a.  Sometimes individuals submit qualification awards for employment or admission to further study, issued by providers  that no longer exist and for whom no or incomplete learner records  are available. SAQA or the verifying  body should inform the applicant  if the qualification is authentic  or not, and state that no records  are available  to verify the qualification award.

b.  A similar procedure applies  to foreign qualifications and institutions that no longer exist and for whom information cannot be verified.

2.3 FOREIGN INSTITUTIONS THAT APPEAR  TO BE ACTING  UNSCRUPULOUSLY

a.  Care must be taken when contemplating listing the names of suspected unscrupulous foreign institutions. The following  must be fully understood:

(i)       The situation  prevailing in their countries  regarding their status, their legal ability to operate  and the international status of their qualifications;

(ii)       The way in which fraud and misrepresentation of qualifications is viewed in their countries; and

(iii)       Whether  the education authority/department in their country  would consider  listing the institution on the RMQP as justifiable.

b.  SAQA reserves  the right to choose whether  to recognise any foreign institution, including regional  institutions such as those belonging to the United Nations  System,  and their qualification/s.

c.  The names and details of foreign institutions that have been found to have misrepresented qualifications or are degree mills will be entered  into the RMQP.   However, no legal action will be sought if the foreign institution does not operate  in South Africa.

LIST OF ACRONMYMS

 

AQP

Assessment Quality Partner

CHE

Council  on Higher Education

DHA

Department of Home Affairs

DOJ

Department of Justice

DPSA

Department of Public Service  and Administration

GFETQSF

General  and Further  Education and Training  Qualifications Sub- Framework

HEQSF

Higher Education Qualifications Sub-Framework

MINISTER: HET

Minister  of Higher Education and Training

NQF

National  Qualifications Framework

OQSF

Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework

RPL

Recognition of Prior Learning

RMQP

Register  of Misrepresented Qualifications and Providers operating outside of the South African National  Qualifications Framework

QC

Quality Council

QCTO

Quality Council for Trades  and Occupations

SAPS

South African Police Services

SAQA

South African Qualifications Authority

SCoE

SAQA Certificate of Evaluation

SETA

Sector Education and Training  Authority

UMALUSI

Council  for Quality Assurance in General  and Further  Education and Training

UNESCO

United Nations  Educational, Scientific  and Cultural  Organisation

 

Last modified onSaturday, 13 May 2017 00:19
  • Gazetted: 6 January 2017
  • Gazette Number: 6 January 2017
Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director

BA LLB

C: +27 82 416 7712

T: +27 11 462 0982

F: +27 86 689 7862

Website: www.workinfo.com
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