Israeli partners abandon UK unis

September 17, 1999

British universities are being abandoned by their franchise partners in Israel following a series of disputes over "British degrees for sale".

Two private Israeli colleges that deliver franchised degrees for the universities of Manchester and Coventry have applied for licences to award their own Israeli degrees. The move, expected to be followed by several of the colleges working with the 18 British universities offering degrees in Israel, follows controversial new franchising laws that have led to stinging high-profile criticisms of British higher education.

The new laws, designed to clamp down on unscrupulous franchise provision, have already claimed several British victims. The University of Derby's application to award degrees in Israel has been delayed after the Israeli Higher Education Council found Derby was failing to conform to a number of legal requirements.

The universities of East London and Birmingham have also experienced compliance difficulties. The Israeli HEC said the universities of Bradford and Bournemouth "have been advised what steps they should take to comply".

Coventry University said it would honour its commitment to students and would be looking for new partners in Israel.

The British Council in Israel has said the public disputes over quality are "ruining the reputation of British higher education".

Manchester University's partner, the Israeli Centre for Academic Studies, has applied for accreditation to offer Israeli degrees. This follows a damning report on Manchester University's Israel operations from the Quality Assurance Agency this year, which said Manchester had "insufficient safeguards" of quality.

Manchester confirmed this week that it was pulling out of Israel, at least in the short term. "We will be supporting ICAS in an orderly transition to the new arrangements and fully honouring commitments to existing students," said Phil Gummett, pro vice-chancellor at Manchester.

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