Higher education minister Blade Nzimande says he is concerned about increasing cases of bogus institutions awarding honorary doctorates, mostly to celebrities.
This comes after businesswoman and reality TV personality Shauwn Mkhize was given a doctorate in philosophy by the unregistered Good Shepherd College of Religion, Culture and Training.
In October, Limpopo mayor Basani Shibambu came under fire for conferring an honorary degree on a local entertainer with dwarfism for his “positive contribution and influence in the community” during a primary school function.
Nzimande appealed to members of the pubic to be circumspect and not accept such qualifications. He also said an investigation was under way.
“I have already requested the Council of Higher Education (CHE) to investigate and advise on appropriate action on all the reported cases of the awarding of these bogus honorary degrees,” he said.
Ahead of the 2022 academic year, the minister also asked prospective students to verify the legality of any programme or course offered by institutions before enrolling to avoid falling prey to illegal operations.
He asked them to consult the registers of private higher institutions and private colleges, which can be found on the department of higher education & training website.
MaMkhize already asked that she be addressed as Dr Mkhize and changed her Instagram name to Dr Shauwn Mkhize.
Media houses covered the story extensively, but it turns out the college that awarded her the honorary degree is not registered.
The Royal AM president’s honorary doctorate was conferred by a Christian institution, the Good Shepherd College of Religion, Culture and Training.
The institution does not even have a website or education domain and no authority to issue a PhD doctorate in philosophy.
“Kindly note that the Good Shepherd College of Religion and Training is not registered with the Department as a private higher education institution. We are currently investigating,” said the Department of Higher Education and Training spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi.
Mamkhize’s family and friends threw her a celebratory dinner and she took to her Instagram page to share all the moments, from her graduation ceremony to the party
She penned a letter to her late parents: “Dear Mama and Papa. Here we are your daughters are both doctors. I hope you and dad are watching over this moment and you are beyond proud. Thank you Lord for this day and thank you to oKhabazela ka Mavovo kayihlandla. It’s moments like this that I cherish from the bottom of my heart, being celebrated and acknowledged whilst I’m still alive.”
The institution could not be reached for comment as it was difficult to find their contact details online.