Recruiting fraud scandal rocks Dutch

November 14, 2003

A report on student registration frauds ordered by the Dutch education ministry has been delayed and will not meet its original deadline of December 31. But an independent investigation claims that up to 12 of 48 vocational universities have committed student registration fraud to gain higher state funding.

The independent inquiry was ordered by the supervisory board of Saxion University IJselland, a vocational university in Deventer. It found that Saxion broke the registration rules four times between 1998 and 2001. The inquiry went on to implicate 11 other institutions in lesser or greater degrees breaches.

A commission investigating all registration fraud for the ministry of education refused to reveal the number of institutions that have engaged in the practice until its final report, but it said that the fraud was "substantial".

Independent investigators said Saxion employees were intimidated by their management. Staff, rather than students, signed registration forms and filled in false dates to meet the deadline for state funding.

The investigators called the mismanaged recruitment of students from China and Vietnam especially shocking. About 600 instead of the planned 240 students entered into a contract with Saxion. Over-recruiting by local agents, who received a fee per student, meant a loss of €450,000 (£300,000) for the university.

The report says: "On their arrival at Schiphol airport, it became evident that some of the students were enlisted on a different training course from the one they had chosen. A Saxion employee gave the students to understand that they had to accept the registration or take the first plane home."

Saxion has acted to prevent other irregularities. Institutions proved to have committed fraud must pay for the investigation.

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