For-profit-owned BPP University College has been told to make improvements to marketing materials after potentially “misleading” claims over courses were identified by the sector’s quality watchdog.
The verdict was delivered in BPP’s first institutional review by the Quality Assurance Agency, published on 11 February, and comes as it awaits the outcome of its application for full university status.
BPP, whose parent company is US for-profit firm Apollo Group, was found to meet three of the review’s four criteria: academic standards, quality of student learning and enhancement of student learning.
But the university college, which specialises in professional and business courses such as law and accountancy, was told by the QAA that “information about learning opportunities…requires improvement to meet UK expectations”.
Information in advertising literature was described as a source of “potential confusion” because of its “lack of clarity”, the report says.
Peer reviewers visiting BPP, which had 6,780 students in 2011-12, said that applicants “may not find the information about the learning opportunities offered is fit for purpose, accessible and sufficiently clear or complete”.
One area of concern was the lack of clarity over courses at BPP’s regional branches. The review team, which visited the college in November, said it had found evidence that students admitted to branches outside London were not aware that lectures would be delivered “remotely” rather than face to face.
Information on some courses that were advertised as available at regional branches but had not yet received approval carried no cautionary notice such as “subject to validation”. There was also a “lack of clarity” both in printed publications and on BPP’s website over whether courses would be delivered by the college or other parties.
Reviewers also took issue with claims of “consistently outstanding student satisfaction” scores, saying it was difficult to compare the scores of an internal survey to those found in the National Student Survey. Using the word “outstanding” implied that BPP was “consistently performing above other institutions and…this could be taken as misleading”, the report says.
Carl Lygo, BPP’s principal and group chief executive, said he was “delighted” by the overall report.
BPP is only the second for-profit-owned institution to undergo a full institutional review. In September, GSM London (formerly Greenwich School of Management) was told to improve student learning opportunities, although the QAA approved its academic standards processes.