Now is the time of year that matric learners and their parents are frantically scouring websites and attending institutional open days in order to fine the best; the most suitable; the most affordable tertiary learning institution.

For many, the decision has already been made and they are starting to make application to UCT, Stellenbosch, UWW, Rhodes, or CPUT.
However, for numerous others for whom these are not an option because their interests or skills lie elsewhere, there is the dilemma regarding how to choose from the numerous private institutions all clamouring to ensure their share of the market.  In response to the numerous phonecalls that I receive at my office regarding the reputation or legitimacy of an institution, I am listing some of the ways that one checks out an institution BEFORE signing the contract and committing oneself to the full annual fee.
  1. Go onto the website.  When last was it updated?  How long has the institution  been in existence? Are there any contactable referees or endorsements.
  2. Now go onto the SAQA website of Private Higher Education Institutions to ensure that the actual course that you want to do at the specific institution is accredited.  Accredited private  FET Colleges can be found on
  3. One can waste a great deal of money on a course that has not been accredited and therefore is not well recognized and doesn’t provide articulation into a higher level.
  4. Visit the institution outside of an open day.  Make an appointment to see the student advisor and ask questions regarding their accreditation and particularly about past students eg what percentage of them obtained work in their area of training (vs going back to waitoring) within a year of graduating.
  5. Don’t be dazzled by fancy premises or fancy promises.  Do your homework.  You will be glad that you did. 

Annette Miller