The Namibian Qualifications Authority has warned prospective students applying to institutions of higher learning to be vigilant, especially at this time of the year – and to always verify the accreditation status of the institution and course before enrolling for their studies.
NQA said it is important to be aware that bogus institutions are not only found outside the borders of Namibia but they are also operating right here at home and within our communities.
NQA’s spokesperson Catherine Shipushu told Youth Corner they only evaluate and recognise qualifications obtained at accredited institutions – whether in Namibia or abroad.
“Studying at an unaccredited institution leads to dire consequences for students because the qualifications they obtain will not be recognised for any purpose. Essentially, they have invested time and money in a qualification that holds absolutely no value,” said Shipushu.
Accreditation is confirmation by the NQA that an institution can provide specified courses and assess the performance of persons enrolled in such courses. Accreditation may be granted to any person, institution or organisation offering training or educational services.
She said academic qualification holders are encouraged to submit their qualifications for evaluation as most employers now request for an NQA report during the recruitment process.
Evaluation, on the other hand, is the process of giving definition or value to a qualification by comparing it to qualification types on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) for Namibia. The evaluation of qualifications is also aimed at verifying the authenticity, legality and validity of the awarding body and the specific qualification.
“Training providers also request prospective students to submit evaluation reports before they can be granted admission for studies. It is, therefore, important to have your qualifications evaluated to have the report ready for when you need it,” advised Shipushu.
She added: “The evaluation process is quite simple; the qualification holder simply downloads the application form on the NQA website. The form is completed and submitted to the NQA along with the relevant required documents”.
Shipushu also stated the evaluation process takes 30 working days, subject to the completeness of the application and availability of information.
“The evaluation of qualifications is a service offered by the NQA for free. The NQA does not evaluate certificates of attendance or participation,” she informed.
Shipushu has noted errors omitted by those applying for evaluation and especially sent through post.
“Some of the applications that are submitted through the post or courier services tend to be incomplete, which means they cannot be processed until the outstanding documents are submitted. This prolongs the evaluation process and is a major cause of frustration to the clients who may need the evaluation report urgently to apply for a job or studies,” she mentioned.
NQA advises the public to ensure all the required documents are attached and that their applications are submitted well in advance to avoid disappointments.
NQA also conducts campaigns to educate the public about their services to ensure the clients have a positive experience when they access their services.
“Recently, we have noted concerning cases of qualification fraud specifically relating to people altering evaluation reports that are issued by the NQA to confirm the authenticity, validity and legality of qualifications. The same applies to accreditation – in that some people are fraudulently falsifying NQA documents and using such documents to lure unsuspecting prospective students to their institutions. In both these cases, the consequences on our communities – and the education system at large – are monumental, and that is why the NQA has a zero tolerance approach towards fraud,” Shipushu assured.
The NQA is further appealing to all institutions that are currently unaccredited to apply for accreditation for their programmes to be recognised and ensure that students, funding organisations and families that invest their hard-earned money in the education of their loved ones get a return on their investments.
During the accreditation process, the NQA verifies whether the training provider has met the relevant requirements, which includes financial stability, employment of qualified teaching staff and appropriately designed curricula, amongst others.
Accreditation is only granted to institutions that have met these requirements.