Bogus University exposed in London

#1
Bogus university scam uncovered
Investigation By Nigel Morris
BBC London Investigations Producer

An international education scam that targets foreign students who come to study in the capital has been exposed by a BBC London investigation.
The bogus Irish International University (IIU), which offers sub-standard and worthless degrees, has been allowed to flourish in the UK - virtually unchecked by government - for the last seven years.
Although the organisation is unaccredited, hundreds of students have been given educational visas to enter Britain and take its exams at private colleges in London.
The IIU, which has 5,000 students worldwide and thousands of graduates, maintains the illusion of a valid education through its elaborate but highly misleading website.
This illusion is enhanced by the university's continued use of Oxford and Cambridge facilities to stage its award ceremonies.
After each event photographs appear on the IIU website showing happy students receiving awards at the UK's best seats of learning.
Our investigation took us from London to Dublin, Oxford and finally Monte Carlo in search of those behind the IIU.
A BBC journalist and an actor posing as fake academic were invited to the IIU's award ceremony which, surprisingly, was held at the Divinity School, next to the Bodleian Library, in the very heart of Oxford University.
The ceremony was due to go ahead at Cambridge but after BBC London alerted the university authorities the event was cancelled but that did not stop the IIU switching venues to Oxford at the last minute.
In Oxford, our journalist and actor secretly filmed the award ceremony and recorded meetings with university boss and Executive President Professor Hardeep Singh Sandhu, a Malaysian businessman and faculty member Dr Edwin Varo.
Dr Varo, told us that the IIU was not bogus and was registered in Ireland and that it had applied to the government and had been given approval to use the word university.
In Dublin, Sean O'Foghlu, Chief Executive of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, told BBC London: "To use the word university in a title it needs approval from our Department of Education and Science - no such approval has been given by our department."
The university website clearly stated that the university had a campus in Dublin. We visited the address given by the IIU on its website - there was no campus, just a mailbox.
The website also claimed that the IIU's educational programmes were accredited and quality controlled by the impressive sounding QAC-UK Ltd - the Quality Assurance Commission, based in North London.
During secretly filmed meetings Professor Sandhu told our undercover team that the QAC was an "independent body" that maintained the quality of education in the UK and elsewhere.
Faculty member, Dr Varo explained that the QAC staff: "Focus more on your curriculum - on your teaching; focus on your evaluation - they focus on your faculty - who are your faculty - what amount of real teaching takes place."
The QAC website listed an impressive roll-call of staff including the QAC Commissioner General and an Acting Commissioner General.
Our reporter visited the QAC and instead of finding a commissioner general we found four telephonists fielding calls for countless companies at yet another virtual office.
A further check at Companies House revealed that far from the being "independent" the QAC is in fact owned by university boss Professor Dr Sandhu.
Bona fide academic, Professor Geoffrey Alderman, gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on the subject of bogus institutions.
He told us: "Some of these colleges will say, 'sure we're accredited', but when you say 'by whom?', they name an accrediting institution which in fact they themselves own."
University boss Professor Sandhu, who sits on the governing council is a Doctor of Letters, a doctorate awarded by another unaccredited university based in the Caribbean.
His professorship is "honorary", awarded by a European association set up to give out professorships.
On the website he also called himself "Sir H Sandhu" but his knighthood was not bestowed on him by the Queen.
One person missing from the Oxford award ceremony was the university's Honorary Chancellor, His Excellency Baron Knowth - real name Professor Jeffrey Wooller - a successful chartered accountant from London.
Professor Wooller, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, owns a £1.2m townhouse in Kensington but spends most of his time living as a tax exile in Monte Carlo.
Our actor, again posing as a fake academic, arranged to meet Professor Wooller, at a hotel in Monaco. We secretly filmed this meeting.
He told our fake academic that the IIU was not "recognised anywhere".
He admitted to our actor that the website was an illusion: "When you look at the website, it's a figment of someone's imagination. Someone's dreamt up what a university should look like, and that's what's on the website."
Professor Wooller told us that students paid a lot of money to attend the award ceremonies, adding: "If you can mention Oxford, Cambridge then the whole world thinks that it must be a good university."
He then said of the university's operation: "The whole thing's dodgy." He even said that the IIU's governing council, of which he and Professor Sandhu are both members, did not exist.
A BBC London reporter then confronted Professor Wooller:
Reporter: You said the whole thing is dodgy.
Mr Wooller: It is dodgy!
Reporter: Oh so you admit it's dodgy?
Mr Wooller: Of course it's dodgy.
He also told our reporter that he had been given his professorship by the IIU and that he had bought his "Baron" title.
Professor Wooller refused to quit as honorary chancellor stating that most IIU students were happy and that the university was good value for money.
Professor John Arnold of Loughborough University has seen coursework from an IIU graduate.
He said: "Students are paying for this, what I would regard as worthless and bogus qualifications. I would say buyer beware from the point of view of students.
"You know I really think that they'll probably be getting qualifications which are unlikely to be taken seriously at least in Western Europe."
Following BBC London's investigation the IIU will now no longer be allowed to use Oxford and Cambridge's facilities to stage their award ceremonies.
Oxford University issued a statement stating that they would not be renting its facilities to the Irish International University in the future.
The IIU website survives but since our investigation it has undergone a radical overhaul.
The reference to a Dublin campus has been removed, the QAC is "no longer involved with the Irish International University" and its logo no longer appears on the website.
Professor Sandhu told BBC London that the university will not renew its affiliations with any private colleges in London.
The government is promising that by 2009 all colleges wishing to bring overseas applicants into the country will need to be accredited.
Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said: "Our universities are rightly regarded as world class and any attempt by bogus institutions or conmen to tarnish this hard won reputation will not be tolerated.
"The UK has some of the toughest regulations in the world governing the award of higher education qualifications. The vast majority of private colleges in London operate lawfully and provide a high-quality service to their students.
"We are working very hard on behalf of students to ensure that all private institutions meet strict quality standards.
"Where we are not satisfied that this is the case with a particular college, we will not hesitate to investigate and if necessary, close it down.
"I would encourage all new students to carefully check the credentials of the college they wish to enrol at and if they have any concerns, contact their local trading standards team."
The full investigation can be seen in two parts on BBC London News at 6.30 pm on Monday 7 January and Tuesday 8 January.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/education/7175730.stm
Published: 2008/01/07 18:30:37 GMT



The "University" website:
http://www.iiuedu.ie/welcome.html
 
#2
He also told our reporter that he had been given his professorship by the IIU and that he had bought his "Baron" title.

What is it with these bogus barons? Any connection with you- know- who?
 
#3
State in threat to sue fake Irish university

By John Walshe Education Editor
Tuesday January 08 2008

The State is considering legal action against a bogus university which is damaging the reputation of Irish education abroad.

The Department of Education and Science said last night it had written several times to the Irish International University instructing the owners to stop using the word university as their use of it was against the law.

"Irish International University (IIU) has no standing as an educational institution in Ireland," said a department spokesperson.

"It is registered only as a business name with the Companies Registration Office. Under the 1997 Universities Act, it requires the approval of the Minister for Education and Science to use the title 'university' and this department has never given such approval."

She said that the department's legal section was still examining the options with regard to IIU. It recognised that the existence of such organisations was contrary to the interests of Ireland's higher education institutions.

IIU was first exposed in the Irish Independent in November 2005 but is still recruiting students from overseas. Many are travelling to the UK where a leading businesswoman has been embarrassed into handing back an honorary award she received from the so-called university.

Mary Chapman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, had agreed to be guest of honour at a "graduation ceremony" last year for the institution which then put her picture on its website to recruit more overseas students.

Exile

The IIU had hired rooms at Oxford at the Divinity School, next to the world-famous Bodelian Library. However, following an investigation by the BBC London, the IIU will no longer be allowed to use facilities at Oxford or Cambridge.

The BBC said IIU had been operating in the UK for the past seven years. Although the organisation is unaccredited, hundreds of students have been given educational visas to enter Britain and take its exams at private colleges in London, it said.

The IIU Honorary Chancellor was listed as His Excellency Baron Knowth -- real name Prof Jeffrey Wooller, a successful chartered accountant from London. Mr Wooller, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, spends most of his time living as a tax exile in Monte Carlo.

A BBC undercover reporter, posing as an academic, arranged to meet Mr Wooller at a hotel in Monaco. The meeting was secretly filmed and Mr Wooler acknowledged that IIU was not "recognised anywhere".

He also admitted its elaborate website, since modified, was an illusion: "When you look at the website, it's a figment of someone's imagination. Someone's dreamt up what a university should look like, and that's what's on the website."

Mr Wooller said students paid a lot of money to attend the award ceremonies and "if you can mention Oxford, Cambridge then the whole world thinks it must be a good university."

- John Walshe Education Editor
http://www.independent.ie/national-news/state-in-threat-to-sue-fake-irish-university-1260013.html
 
#4
Glasgows pretty bad for that. There are, how shall we say, ethnic gentlemen who set up "universities" and "colleges" and then advertise them in countries like ghana and kenya etc etc. Some poor unfortunate parts with a big stack of cash, flies over, discovers their student visa has never been organised and the college is infact a kebab shop on the Shettleston Road.
 
#5
#6
Last month we went to the passing out parade at the APTC Aldershot. Our nephew passed out as a sergeant into the APTC. This was the first SI course to include a foundational degree. Hence the lads in mortars and gowns were presented with their qualifications by a Professor.

I can begin to see the possibilities of a wind up using the material on this thread. But will the 6 4 17 stone lump of beef nephew fall for a story that his foundational degree comes from ......
 
#7
The IIU Honorary Chancellor was listed as His Excellency Baron Knowth -- real name Prof Jeffrey Wooller, a successful chartered accountant from London.
I bet there's a few people shitting themselves about their last few years' tax returns after this little gem.

Seems like they've taken advantage of a loophole in the rules

It is not an offence for overseas organisations to offer their own awards in the UK, as long as they make it clear that they are not qualifications from a UK institution and that accreditation is from overseas. However, the UK authorities are unable to vouch for the quality of these qualifications, many of which may involve no formal study.
You could certainly argue they've gone out of their way to mislead, but nothing I can tell explicitly states "this is a UK University degree".
 
#8
smartascarrots said:
You could certainly argue they've gone out of their way to mislead, but nothing I can tell explicitly states "this is a UK University degree".
They seem particularly vague on this point:

The Irish International University operates dual system where it awards and validates certificates based on the mode of collaborative partnership agreement with the various partner institutions. The awards are granted on the footage of programmes delivered by partner institutions. The scheme of programmes consists of credit accumulation and transfer schemes, advanced standing, bridging and research programmes for an award from the University.

The structure and quality of the programmes are look into by the international Advisory Panel of the Quality Assurance Committee, a separate body set up to safeguard the interest of the learners. The partner institutions are annually audited by the Quality Assurance Committee of the university and external bodies.
 
#9
Looks like this was just the tip of the iceberg. BBC Link

Deep joy. As if life wasn't hard enough, competing for students.
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads