Academic quality has not been "adequately safeguarded" by the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside in an overseas franchise operation, the Quality Assurance Agency has warned.
The QAA has advised the university's academic board to discuss "at the earliest opportunity" the implications of a series of bungles in the university's partnership with Skyline College in Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates.
Although the QAA audit team concluded that students were happy with their experiences and that the "academic standards of the university's awards are in fact being maintained", there were "substantial points of concern" in the university's procedures.
"There are features of the university's practice in the conduct of this overseas collaboration that do not represent good practice and are indeed open to substantial criticism," the overseas quality audit report said.
The QAA noted that the university "entrusted the final year of two of its degree programmes to be delivered by staff lacking experience of British higher education, in an institution also lacking that experience, and with whom the university has had no previous experience of working in any field."
The partnership with the private higher education college was established in 1993, initially with arrangements to provide BA courses. The QAA said that the university had acted on procedural problems that were identified at an early stage, but that "some problems remain or have recurred" and that the university had failed to learn from them.
"The university has been precipitate" with the recent extension of programmes to include an MBA course, and "its own requirements have not been insisted on".
The university is undertaking its own review of its overseas collaboration, with an external consultant. "This is a most welcome development," the QAA said.