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The University of Central Lancashire has said that plans for a Thailand campus have been dropped, leading to an estimated loss of £3.2 million.
Meanwhile, it has won praise for its planned Sri Lanka campus from William Hague, the foreign secretary, as criticism mounts over alleged human rights abuses in the country.
Uclan has previously been criticised by the United Nations for building its Cyprus campus in the buffer zone separating the island’s Greek and Turkish communities.
On Thailand, a Uclan spokesman said that “due to unforeseen circumstances, the project was unable to proceed and the parties are engaged in closing down the project”.
Uclan’s 2011-12 accounts detail negotiations over the land that had to be secured to build the campus – a joint venture between Uclan and a “resident Thai partner”. They add that there is “potential exposure” as deposits paid on the portion of land still to be secured “could be lost” if negotiations were unsuccessful. Uclan’s spokesman said 2012-13 accounts would show a write-down of £3.2 million, adding that “no public money was used in any of the funding”.
More positively for Uclan, the Foreign Office released a statement praising its Sri Lanka campus, scheduled to open in 2015.
“Education is a significant factor in building peace and stability and this…campus should be celebrated,” said Mr Hague, who unveiled a plaque at the site.
According to local press reports, investment in the campus will come to $100 million (£62 million) and the venture will be granted a 15-year corporate income tax holiday by the government. However, some at Uclan have argued that it should not associate with the Sri Lankan state.
Uclan “welcomes the government of Sri Lanka’s commitment to engage with the [UN] Human Rights Council”, its spokesman said.