QAA investigating private college at centre of public funds row

But also emerges that watchdog passed LSST for educational oversight last September

May 23, 2014

The quality watchdog is investigating a private college at the centre of allegations over misuse of student loans.

It comes just months after the Quality Assurance Agency gave London School of Science and Technology a clean bill of health in September 2013 in a review for educational oversight (REO), awarding it the “confidence” and “reliance” judgements required to pass.

But this week, The Guardian has alleged that classrooms at the college were empty despite it having 1,500 students, many of them claiming support from the public-backed Student Loans Company, and that the college has offered places to students without the required skills.

The QAA’s judgement on LSST will increase concerns about the watchdog’s ability to monitor standards among for-profit colleges, many of whom are rapidly expanding their number of students on public-backed loans.

The QAA said in a statement that it is “currently investigating” the London School of Science and Technology.

“This follows concerns raised about recruitment and admissions procedures, attendance, staffing, and the monitoring of academic standards,” it added.

Yet the QAA’s REO review highlighted admissions as an area of “good practice”. The review says: “The extended admissions process creates crucial dialogue between staff and students.”

“The school has devised a rigorous programme for programme monitoring,” the QAA adds in the review. It also praises “robust procedures for assessment”.

The QAA’s investigation is being carried out under its concerns scheme.

LSST offers higher national certificates and higher national diplomas validated by Pearson, the QAA REO review notes, as well as a top-up degree programme under agreement with the University of West London.

The latest developments will raise concerns about the level of rigour involved in the QAA’s REO process. These reviews were originally designed to judge if private colleges met the standards for highly trusted sponsor (HTS) status to recruit overseas students.

Yet they are now to play a central role in the government’s expansion of private higher education.

Under new rules introduced by the government, private colleges will have to go through QAA review if they want their students to have access to public funding.

But unlike publicly-funded universities, which must undergo full institutional review by the QAA, private colleges will be allowed to go through the lesser REO.

LSST issued a statement to the Guardian denying the allegations in the newspaper, saying its admissions procedures were “undoubtedly robust”.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy