Opportunists circle those left high and dry by Wales

Institutions tout for validation business among colleges hit by withdrawal, writes David Matthews

November 10, 2011

British and Australian institutions have been vying to take over the accreditation of courses validated by the University of Wales, it has emerged.

The university announced at the start of October that it was revamping its course-validation system, which accredits programmes at about 130 colleges across the world.

It first stated that only those "designed and fully controlled" by the institution would be approved, then said it was dropping its charter and would cease to offer degrees.

Now it transpires that many of the partner colleges that relied on the university's validation have been approached by rival institutions.

The University of the West of England approached one college five days after the plans to rein in the validation model were unveiled, while the Australian Institute of Business has also been in contact with "most" of the University of Wales' partners.

On 9 October, David Caine, director of UWE Global, emailed the managing director of the Tasmac business schools in India asking whether "given the recent announcement by the University of Wales...you would be interested in looking for another partner".

In a statement to Times Higher Education, Mr Caine says that following an assessment of a "small number" of the University of Wales' partners, "virtually all were considered not to be...compatible with (UWE's) concept of partnership". This included Tasmac.

However, he adds that the University of Wales did have relationships with some "good-quality institutions", citing a Swiss college that was sending delegates to visit possible replacement partners in the UK, including UWE.

Meanwhile, on 12 October, Vinod Joel Abraham, marketing director of the AIB, emailed University of Wales partners to offer them more information on running master and bachelor of business administration programmes. He said that through a mixture of the AIB contacting colleges and colleges contacting the AIB, the institute had spoken to the majority of University of Wales validated institutions.

But he stressed that the AIB's model was not the same as the University of Wales', as the institute designed course content and controlled admissions, assessment and staff. "We don't do validation because it's a very dangerous business," he said. He added that the AIB had not been in contact with "dodgy" University of Wales partners.

Some University of Wales partners said they have found new UK validating institutions. The British Hellenic College in Greece said that it had secured an agreement "with another university that used to be a part of the University of Wales in the past and we are ready to start working with them", while London-based Spurgeon's College said it was meeting with four UK universities as possible partners.

A source close to the University of Wales said: "It is disappointing that based on apparently one-sided stories in the media, competitive institutions have been quick to seize the opportunity to compete for business."

david.matthews@tsleducation.com.

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