Owners of language schools in South Africa are complaining that their businesses are being hampered by the immigrations laws of the country. They are saying that they are already losing millions of rand. School owners fear that there would be job losses if the number of foreign students drop and are also worried that their school would face closure in the near future.
This came at a time when the schools are seeing a big increase in applications for study visa yet these were being turned down by the embassies and consulates of South Africa all over the world. The situation started last year after the implementation of the new immigration laws.
South Africa College of Education and Languages co-founder, Stevin Smith said that his school as well as others got accreditation with the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SEDA) previously and they were allowed to take in foreign enrollees due to this required accreditation. However, the study visa applications are being denied now due to the new immigration laws’ requirement that the language schools must be registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
The language schools are now trying to comply with the new regulations and registering with the DHET as Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges. However the process is quite lengthy.
The Department of Higher Education and Training claimed that they have sent letters to the schools that they could present to the Department of Home Affairs but many school owners said they have not received any letter and those who have received them said that the letters were not recognized by the consulates.
The Department of Higher Education and Training said that there had been no reported cases of the letters not being recognized by Home Affairs. Conversely, Jackie McKay, the deputy director general for immigration of the Department of Home Affairs said that the problem is between the schools and the Department of Higher Education.
But it seems that the bottleneck is within the Home Affairs and the Red Tape Reduction Unit of the government of the Western Cape had already engaged Home Affairs on the issue. They have recommended that the letters of recognition or the acceptance and enrollment issued by the accredited institutions should be accepted as valid proof so that foreign students could be issued visas. They did not reach an agreement during their first round of talks and so the Red Tape Reduction Unit is preparing to hold another talk with Home Affairs once again.
The school owners are thinking that it would be better for them to apply for accreditation directly with the Department of Higher Education and Training instead of waiting for the issue with Home Affairs to be resolved.
The accreditation process was started in October 2014 and is expected to be finished by August 2015.
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