QAA critical of Met alternatives

Two potential destination colleges named in recent watchdog reports. John Morgan writes

September 20, 2012

Two private colleges chosen by London Metropolitan University as possible destinations for its overseas students have recently been named in critical reports by the standards watchdog.

London Met already benefits from a joint venture agreement with one of the colleges, London School of Business and Finance (LSBF).

The news comes ahead of the first hearing on 21 September in the university's legal challenge to the UK Border Agency over the decision to revoke its visa licence.

London Met initially chose 15 institutions, six of them private colleges, to take part in a mini-clearing system that began on 17 September to find new courses for its 2,600 non-European Union students.

The clearing house is backed by up to £2 million of government funding to help the students switch institutions.

One of the private colleges chosen, for-profit Greenwich School of Management, fell short on two out of three criteria in an institutional review published by the Quality Assurance Agency on 4 September.

Although academic standards meet UK expectations, the report says, the quality of student learning opportunities "requires improvement to meet UK expectations" and the enhancement of student learning opportunities "does not meet UK expectations".

The QAA will make a follow-up review visit in a year's time.

Alison Wride, the school's principal, said it was "on track to implement all recommendations within the proposed time frames". Its support for international students "was highlighted by the QAA as an example of good practice", she added.

Meanwhile, as reported by Times Higher Education last month, a QAA "concerns report" published on 9 August investigated aspects of the former relationship between the University of Wales and the jointly run business schools LSBF and Finance Business Training (FBT).

The investigation - which focused on FBT - "identified a number of weaknesses on the part of FBT/LSBF, including institutional immaturity and inadequate understanding of the expectations of a UK higher education provider", the report says.

An LSBF spokeswoman said the report "recognises that LSBF acquired FBT along with a number of inherited problems", but that "the threshold of confidence in the management of academic standards has been achieved".

A London Met spokeswoman said LSBF was chosen in the mini-clearing list because of the "joint venture agreement".

"Students who transfer to LSBF will receive London Metropolitan University accreditation for their degree - and this may be an option our students would like to choose."

She added: "London Met would receive the normal validation fee charged for validated programmes."

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