Keeping the APPETD on our side

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    Hannes Nel

    It took me fifteen years before I decided to become a member of the APPETD. The APPETD was established in 1997 as a national body representing the interests of private providers. In time the APPETD has come to be recognised as a reputable body that works towards maintaining the highest standards of education and training throughout the industry. The organisation provides several chambers to cater for the needs of its members, including private providers offering one or more of face-to-face learning, distance learning, ABET, and ECD.

    As you well know, us private learning institutions have a really hard time trying to convince the DHET of the important contribution that we make to the education and training of the South African community. Because of this we sometimes feel short-done and discriminated against, and in some instances we actually are right. It is really frustrating when nobody would listen to one’s complaints to the point that one actually considers taking legal steps against the DHET, SETAs, quality assurance bodies, etc.

    Once, when I really did not know what else to do I decided to speak to the Minister personally. It took me weeks to get an appointment and then also only with one of the Minister’s Directors. This actually turned out to be a rather constructive visit. Of course I hinted that the Minister regards himself too important to speak to us lesser mortals; then I explained my frustration to the Director. He was a most kind and understanding person, and agreed that my complaint is valid. However, he said, the Minister will not listen to just one private provider. The problem that I had (the refusal of the CHE/HEQC to recognise unit standard-based qualifications, which made it impossible for us to accredit for HE) applied to almost all private learning institutions, and if I could muster the support of a large enough number of private providers the Minister would have no other choice but to listen to us.

    Rather than to start from scratch I felt that the APPETD is probably the right body to deal with such issues, so I decided to join them. The reason why I did not join earlier is because your membership fee is linked to the annual turnover of your business, and quite of a number of the people serving on the APPETD Board are private providers, i.e. my competition, and I was not prepared to give them any information on Mentornet’s turnover. I discussed this with Cynthia Reynders, CEO of the APPETD. She assured me that the turnover of applicants is treated as confidential and other private providers do not have access to this information. Even so, what you pay to become a member already gives them a good idea of what your annual turnover is, and although Cynthia assured me that membership fees are also treated with circumspection I still feel they should find a less sensitive manner in which to determine membership fees.

    Point is, the more dependent the APPETD is of government for funding and status, the less will they be able to serve the interests of private learning institutions. We need to embrace them as our voice with government and quality assurance bodies and the more private learning institutions join them the better will they be able to serve our needs. Of course we are entitled to getting value for our money. However, having spoken to the current CEO and having witnessed what they already do I am satisfied that the APPETD is extremely important for our status, recognition and survival.

    Aside from paying membership fees we can empower the APPETD to serve our interests by not being an embarrassment for them. The Minister will most certainly not take notice of an organisation that represents a bunch of fly-by-nights, so don’t be surprised of the APPETD refuses you membership if you cannot provide evidence that you are a professional learning institution that is serious about offering high quality education and training.

    Dr Hannes Nel, MD Mentornet


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    Tholsia Naidoo

    Dear Hannes

    It was indeed good to meet you at the FET conference last week. Your comments are spot on, private providers play an incredible role in South Africa but this is often not seen or known. I am aware of some really good work APPETD has done and continues to do to add value in education and training for South Africans.

    If we can serve through one voice and embrace the capacity that is available in our sector we will be a real voice. The irony or tragedy (not sure which) is that so many of private providers are used to support and build a stronger public sector and to influence national policy but we are not using and embracing these skills to build a stronger, more sustainable private sector.

    I think its great to contribute to the public sector and be respected enough to participate, it should at the same time build the collaborations to build South Africa. 


    I agree that it is critical for the private providers to have a strong voice with the regulatory authorities. I value the seminars which are presented by APPETD and they are highly informative. What has APPETD done in the form of lobbying regulatory authorities and what is APPETD planning on doing in this regard?


    Thank you Ari for your positive input. APPETD is currently engaging on a high level with the various regulatory authorities to accommodate for the needs of private providers stemming from the changes in the various skills development legislation.

    APPETD will be conducting a workshop by the end of January 2013 to convey and update our members with the way forward for private providers working together in a positive and contributing framework with the relevant regulatory authorities.

    The date and venue of this workshop will be timeously communicated to all APPETD members.



    As the chair of the re-established HE chamber, I am aware that there are HE providers (members and non-members) who are anxious to address issues that have a direct impact on their businesses.  I am keen to get the chamber going again as soon as possible, with meetings and workshops hopefully in Pta, CT, Dbn and Jhb.

    Some of the issues that we could tackle are:

    • Duties & liabilities of directors in Companies Act 2008
      • What you ‘reasonably ought to have known’
      • Who can you damages be claimed against?  See Sect 218(2)
      • Have you converted your Articles to MOI? (deadline early 2013)
    • King III & Corporate governance
      • Separation of powers between directors and owners
    • Who does the Consumer Protection Act really protect?
      • The Act is biased, your students have more rights than you do
    • National Credit Regulator is concerned about giving credit
      • When you add interest, you fall under the Credit Act
    • Accreditation, re-accreditation, registration…
      • When do you have to apply for re-accreditation?
      • How long does it take?
    • Level 5: HEQC, QCTO, DHET: swimming in alphabet soup
      • No DHET registration, for now.  What next?
      • You no longer control assessment and certification
      • What about the Fidelity Guarantee?
    • Private providers who are guilty of fraud, crime & corruption
      • What MUST be accredited?  Who MUST be registered?
      • Should we report or advise ‘illegal’ providers?
    • Surviving the fall out from reputational damage
      • What can you do about bad press / TV sensationalism?
    • Don’t waste a good recession: do dark clouds have silver linings?
      • Innovative business opportunities for private providers
    • Collaboration opportunities for competitors
      • Trust one another and share resources & expertise
      • Co-opertition: 1 + 1 = 3
      • Achieve critical mass in brain power
    • New market opportunities
      • New socioeconomic landscape = untapped markets
    • The APPETD – Marsh financial surety / guarantee
      • More benefits: procurement, legal advice, insurance…
    • Creative financing opportunities for providers
      • Creditors, angel investors, venture capital…
    • SARS and the new accounting practices & tax regulations
      • Do you understand new terminology in your financials?
    • Student financing options vs NSFAS
      • Alternate sources for private providers’ students
    • How to conduct academic & institutional research
      • NRF constitution doesn’t limit them to Varsities
      • Where do we find the peer-reviewed journals?
    • Employment Equity & BBBEE
      • How to get the greatest value from the new BBEEE Code
    • HE applicants and the Central Applications Office
      • Will private providers be included / get a fair shake?
    • Don’t fall foul of the Personal Information Bill
      • What student information you may not make public
    • What concerns do you have that are not listed above?

    If you would like to participate, please ask the APPETD office (011 791 5463, to send you a questionnaire on which you can indicate what issues concern you and where and when you are available to meet

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One thought on “Keeping the APPETD on our side

  • johanpoolman

    Marufu, Gweje & Ian – thanks for your comments; interesting points you make! Quoting Sir Alex Fergurson makes sense – he certainly has the right credentials! And downsizing doesn’t seem to be an option when it comes to rugby; they just ship the B team abroad! 

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