SIX PEOPLE have been charged with conspiring to defraud a further education college after a two-year investigation into bogus courses, writes Harriet Swain.
A seventh has been charged with forgery as a result of the inquiry by West Midlands police fraud squad into community courses franchised by Bournville College in Birmingham.
The four men and three women have been bailed to appear before magistrates in the city at the end of this month. Detectives said further prosecutions could follow.
Police were called into the college in January 1995 after complaints that some franchised courses did not exist. Bournville immediately terminated contracts with four community groups, to which it had already paid out Pounds 140,000.
Patricia Twyman, principal of Bournville College, said police had kept her fully informed but declined to comment further because the matter was now subjudice.
The Department for Education and Employment last week blamed franchising for draining Government coffers by making colleges expand too quickly. It has launched another urgent review of franchised provision.