The Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) has revealed that 341 students over the last two years have fallen prey to bogus institutions.
NQA spokesperson Catherine Shipushu says these institutions are unregistered and unaccredited.
This was discovered after 15 139 qualifications offered by Namibian and foreign institutions were evaluated.
"It is a challenge to keep track of their existence. There is, however, a list of all accredited Namibian institutions and the programmes they are authorised to offer," Shipushu says.
Since 2018 only 18 fake qualifications have been handed over to the Namibian Police for investigation.
Shipushu say there has, however, been a decline in the number of fraudulent qualifications submitted to the NQA for evaluation purposes.
Approximately 300 cases of fake qualifications were detected by the NQA over a three-year period and were filed with the police between 2015 to 2018.
The latest incident is that of four students spending about N$120 000 at different institutions, only to discover their qualifications are not recognised in Namibia.
Festus Kalenga (27) says he spent N$17 000 on a six-month certificate at the Izulu Lethu Mining and Training Academy.
Last year, after evaluating his certificate, the NQA notified him that his qualification would not be accredited by the authority.
"I felt bad because I wasted my parents' money. I regret going there without verifying their accreditation," he says.
Kalenga says he was introduced to the academy via an advertisement on social media.
"They said they are accredited at the NQA. They even showed me a picture of it ..," he says.
The academy could not be reached for comment.
Kalenga, one of 18 students who studied through the South African institution, says their office was in Windhoek's Independence Avenue, with a certain Rita Nangombe as a contact person, who could not be reached either.
"I have been trying to call Rita, but her number is unreachable," he says.
To remedy his losses, Kalenga currently works while studying engineering at Triumphant College.
Veronika Tebele (33) says she feels betrayed by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) for taking her from Gobabis to Botswana to study for three years to ultimately discover the institution is not accredited in Namibia.
Tebele graduated with a diploma in tourism management from the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Botswana.
This university has campuses throughout Africa and Europe, with its headquarters in Malaysia.
Tebele is one of 40 students who were sent to Botswana to study on the NSFAF's ticket.
Their studies cost the fund a minimum of N$60 000 each in 2016.
After receiving the news that her diploma was not recognised in Namibia, Tebele and her classmates called the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA), who gave them the same verdict.
"I should have been working by now. I am a burden to my family. I thought I would have had a better life," she says.
NSFAF boss Kennedy Kandume was unaware of the 40 students' predicament.
"Once the NQA confirms that the institution is accredited through the Botswana Qualifications Authority, then we are good to go, but we also verify whether the qualification is accredited, and that is how we chose that institution in Botswana," he says.
The NQA said the Limkokwing University was accredited, but most courses are not.
"However, we are busy with investigations, because some students from previous years have this issue," Kandume says.
Elizabeth Amadhila (46) says she paid N$6 000 for a certificate in business and secretarial studies, but has wasted her money.
"I have three children and I thought if I studied it would help me get a job to feed them," she says.
She finished a one-year course in development aid at the People to People vocational training school in Namibia.
Meanwhile, Immanuel Nakashole is currently appealing the NQA's decision not to accredit his doctorate of philosophy.
He says he has spent N$37 000 on his PhD in educational administration at the Selinus University of Science and Literature.