Education department warns new university is ‘fraudulent’

Shai Reshef: UoPeople is accredited in the US. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/SEAN GALLUP

Shai Reshef: UoPeople is accredited in the US. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/SEAN GALLUP

South Africans love a freebie as much as anyone, but when a “tuition-free” university hit our shores recently, it rubbed higher education authorities up the wrong way.

On the eve of the launch of the University of the People (UoPeople) in SA, the department of higher education & training issued a media alert warning that the “fraudulent university” was not registered with the department as required by law, and that it could find no evidence that it was accredited with the US education department. UoPeople did not have the authority to enrol students or grant degrees in SA, it said.

Department spokesman Madikwe Mabotha says there is no evidence that the online American university is accredited in SA, and whether or not it is registered with the US education department has no bearing on its accreditation status in SA.

But the local department’s warnings fell on deaf ears, as the launch of UoPeople was covered by television and newspapers across the country, highlighting the desperate demand for fee-free higher education.

UoPeople president Shai Reshef says the university is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, an accreditation body that is approved by the US government. “University of the People has enrolled over 10,000 students from more than 200 countries. We are fully accredited in the US, and US higher education is generally well respected and recognised worldwide.”

In this country, the SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA) registers qualifications against its National Qualifications Framework, while the Council on Higher Education (CHE) accredits learning programmes and submits qualifications to the qualifications authority for registration under the framework.

SAQA advocacy, communications & support director Wellington Radu says genuine qualifications can be issued by an education provider only if it is registered with one of three quality councils in SA: Umalusi, the Quality Council for Trades & Occupations, and the CHE.

Mergence Investment Managers equity analyst Nolwandle Mthombeni, who works with private education groups, says: “In the context of [SA], it isn’t a recognised institution.”

Mabotha says fraudulent tertiary institutions are prevalent world wide. The problem is especially pronounced in the case of online distance learning companies.

“In this country, bogus operators hide behind so-called ‘international’ accreditation,” he says.

Though the department has shut down many bogus colleges, some operators change their modus operandi once they are caught. Some, like the Academy for Sexology in Pretoria, take their courses online; others change their names.

UoPeople’s Reshef insists the institution is accredited in the US. “At this point we have not felt the need to pursue accreditation in any other country,” he adds.

More than 400 local students have enrolled with UoPeople, even though some say it has not been transparent about its fee structure, as it is not completely cost free.

The university claims to have free programmes, but its steep processing fees mean it isn’t a cheaper education platform. UoPeople charges a nonrefundable US$60 “processing fee”. It also charges $100 for each exam and $200 for an MBA exam.

The average undergraduate student in SA has four exams per semester. Using this average, UoPeople’s cost per semester is actually more than R5,000, and this doubles for MBA students.

Reshef says these “modest fees” ensure that the university remains sustainable.

A registered student told the Financial Mail he is happy to have found an internationally recognised institution to further his studies. Registering was simple, he says, but little contact support is offered and students have to grapple with material on their own.

Another student says the model allows her to work full-time and study in between.

[“Source-businesslive”]

FCA warns it may intervene as millions take pension cash early

Many savers are apparently moving money out of pension pots into other savings vehicles, which could be ‘disastrous’. Photograph: Andrew Brookes/Getty Images/Cultura RF

The TUC has warned that millions of workers risk being “plunged into insecurity in old age” after an official report revealed a surge of people grabbing their pension cash early without taking advice.

More than two years after the government brought in a range of pension freedoms, the Financial Conduct Authority concluded that accessing pension pots early had become “the new norm”. The regulator warned that early intervention may be needed to ensure this multibillion-pound market worked well.

The FCA’s study of the retirement market also found that in more than half of the cases where all the money was taken out of a pension pot, the cash was not spent on cars or holidays, etc; instead it was shifted into other savings or investments, partly because of a “mistrust of pensions”.

For many people the freedoms introduced in April 2015 effectively abolished the requirement to convert a pension pot into an annuity – a product that provides an income for life. Instead, older people are free to do whatever they like with their retirement cash – although those withdrawing large sums may well incur a considerable tax bill. Earlier this year it emerged that the reforms had raised five times more tax for the Treasury’s coffers than was originally forecast, suggesting that people were withdrawing larger sums than expected.

The FCA found that almost three-quarters (72%) of the pots accessed since the freedoms came in were held by people under 65. Most are choosing to take lump sums rather than a regular income. Meanwhile, more than half (53%) of the pots accessed had been fully withdrawn.

“Several factors motivated consumers to access their savings early, including a perception that ‘everyone is doing it’ and a general climate of mistrust,” stated the report. Meanwhile, moving cash from a pension into another savings or investment vehicle “can result in consumers paying too much tax, missing out on investment growth or losing out on other benefits”.

The report also found that income drawdown, which allows savers to take out regular amounts of money while the majority of their savings remain invested, had become much more popular. However, the proportion of drawdown plans bought without advice leapt from 5% before the freedoms to 30% now. “Drawdown is complex … There is a question about whether further support and protection is needed to manage drawdown effectively,” said the FCA.

Responding to the findings, Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, said: “This is a damning verdict on so-called ‘pensions freedom’. Workers who are facing insecurity in their working lives now risk being plunged into insecurity in old age. Savers are increasingly dipping into their pots early. And others are following the path of least resistance and risk buying rip-off products.”

Moving retirement cash into other investments “can have disastrous long-term consequences”, said investment firm Old Mutual Wealth. Another firm, Retirement Advantage, said that to do this was “frankly bonkers”.

[“Source-theguardian”]

Get Off Our Lawn, Chinese Army Warns Hong Kong’s Pokemon Go Players

Get Off Our Lawn, Chinese Army Warns Hong Kong's Pokemon Go Players

The Chinese army garrisoned in Hong Kong has warned people searching for Pikachu and other virtual monsters to stay off their premises, as Pokemon Go mania sweeps the smartphone-obsessed city.

The gaming app landed Monday in Hong Kong, and saw residents more glued to their phones than ever, searching for the cyber creatures in locations ranging from shopping malls to the government headquarters.

The app uses satellite locations, graphics and camera capabilities to overlay cartoon monsters on real-world settings, challenging players to capture and train the creatures for battles.

(Also see:  Pokemon Go No Longer Working in Parts of India, Reddit Users Complain)

But the city’s enthusiasm to “catch ’em all” has prompted warnings from government departments and even the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to stay off their property.

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A PLA spokesman told AFP the city’s barracks were closed zones.

(Also see: How to Play Pokemon Go in India? Here’s Everything You Need to Know)

“Military barracks are restricted areas under Hong Kong law. Without the authorisation of the commanding officer, no one is allowed to enter the restricted areas,” he said.

Police also warned residents to be careful when playing the game.

“When you are capturing monsters, stay alert to your surroundings,” a police video posted on Facebook said.

(Also see:  This Pokemon Go Map Will Show You Every Pokemon Location)

“Police report rooms are for people in need of police services, players are not allowed to play the game there, be a smart player!” the video added.

The app has now been launched in more than 40 countries including the US, Japan and much of Europe. Japanese video game company Nintendo started the mythical creature franchise 20 years ago.

(Also see: Pokemon Go iOS: How to Download Pokemon Go for iPhone, iPad)

However, widespread warnings have been given by authorities around the world after reports of players being injured or becoming the victims of crime.

Some Pokemon Go players were robbed after being lured to isolated locations in the hopes of catching the virtual creatures, according to US reports. Other distracted players have been blamed for causing traffic accidents.

(Also see: How to Download Pokemon Go APK, Install, and Play on Android)

In Indonesia, a French player was stopped and questioned for several hours after the app led him into a military base.

Two youngsters were so preoccupied with catching the cartoon monsters that they wandered across the US-Canada border.

Tags: Android, Apple, Apps, Gaming, Internet, Nintendo, Pokemon, Pokemon Go

 

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Delhi chief Minister Warns of Strict action towards Ola, Uber

Delhi Chief Minister Warns of Strict Action Against Ola, Uber

Delhi leader Minister Arvind Kejriwal Monday warned of “strict movementagainst app-primarily basedtaxis, together with cancellation of permits and impounding of motors, for charging fares extra than therates prescribed by way of the government.

“Strict movement, along with permit cancellation and impounding of cars, might be taken against app-based taxis which charge fares more than government-prescribed prices (sic),” Kejriwal said in a tweet Monday.

(also see: Will save you Arbitrariness by App-based totally Taxi Operators: Delhi government)

The move comes after the government obtained some complaints towards the app-based totally taxicarrier companies Ola and Uber of trekking the fares exorbitantly for the duration of rush hours.

The charges had been allegedly additionally hiked Monday, the first complete working day of the fortnight-lengthy abnormal-even scheme when places of work, schools and different establishmentsreopened after an extended weekend.

delivery Minister Gopal Rai made an enchantment to the commuters to sign in their proceedings at 011-42400400 in opposition to exorbitant fares charged via the app-primarily based taxi carrier vendors.

“If we obtain complaints against arbitrariness of any app-based totally taxi service, we can impound theirautomobiles,” Rai stated.

in advance in the day, Kejriwal pooled in Rai’s car to attain his office at Delhi Secretariat.

Heavy visitors become witnessed at ITO and near Akshardham inside the morning hours on the firstoperating day after the street-rationing scheme turned into rolled out on April 15.

nowadays is the real test of ordinary-even. like the first phase of the scheme, all of us will ought to make its second phase a success,” Rai said.

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Tags: Apps, Delhi, India, abnormal Even, strange Even Rule, Ola, Surge Pricing, Uber