An official list of "genuine" universities and colleges in the UK contains a number of businesses without recognised accreditation, an investigation by The Times Higher has found.
The Register of Education and Training Providers is described by the Department for Education and Skills as "a list of genuine education and training providers.
But it includes one London-based private "university" that boasts that it "opts not to proceed with accreditation". Another is a private college that shares its name, address, phone number and senior staff with a partner "university" that admits it has no UK "approval" of its quality or its teaching content and methods.
The register was compiled by the Home Office and the DFES as part of a clampdown on bogus colleges acting as fronts for illegal immigration scams.
Although the DFES says the list "does not quality assure or accredit in any way" those listed, its website says that registered institutions have been "assessed and validated by the DFES".
A DFES spokesperson acknowledged that "there is room for improvement" with the register and confirmed that the department was working on a replacement.
One controversial body on the register is Newport International University, based in Northeast London. Its website says it awards degrees through a licence with the Wyoming Department of Education in the US, but this does not amount to accreditation.
Its Hong Kong site says that it is not accredited but adds that this "does not determine the legitimacy of a university".
It warns students: "It is the student's responsibility to determine whether credits, degrees or certificates from the institution will transfer to other institutions or meet employers' requirements".
The principal at Newport in the UK, A. Andrews, said: "We are a centre here providing support and teaching for a US degree. We have got the necessary registration with the US."
Another controversial organisation on the register is Warnborough College, founded in Oxford in 1973. It was criticised in the mid-Nineties after students walked out claiming they had been misled into believing they were joining an Oxford University college. The college this week said the students had been expelled and accused a recruitment agent of misleading them.
The college is now based in Canterbury, where it shares its address, phone number, senior staff, its alumni association and its logo and foundation date with a "Warnborough University".
Warnborough is a limited company registered in Ireland, but it does not receive funding or regulation from the Irish Government.
A spokesman at Warnborough said the college was a "member college" of the university, but added that they were "two separate entities, with the university functioning within Irish law and the college functioning clearly within the laws of England".
"Everything is legitimate and we have no worries or problems," he said. He said the university "clearly stated" on its website that it did not offer UK degrees.