University spent £300K on London outpost that did not enrol any students

University of South Wales shuts Docklands centre after less than a year

July 28, 2015
Thames River and Canary Wharf in London

A university has closed its London outpost without recruiting any students, having spent about £300,000 on the venture.

The University of South Wales has been accused of “wasting taxpayers’ money” on its centre in the capital’s financial district, which was meant to offer courses in the fields of law, financial services and information security, but was shut after less than a year.

The institution said that changes in visa regulations for international students had “introduced a level of complexity which impacted on the viability of the project”.

Four university staff were employed at the centre, based in the premises of the Docklands Academy, a private college that opened in 2009.

The university has not published how much it spent on the venture, but Times Higher Education understands that it was about £300,000.

A spokesman for the university described the London centre as a “proof-of-concept exercise” that had allowed the institution to “test the market without major financial outlay”.

“We had a number of student applications but, having tested the market, USW decided not to proceed at this time,” the spokesman said. “In part, the business case was based on recruiting international students. However, the UK visa regulations changed in between the decision to start the project and the point at which we would have moved to enrol students.

“This change, for universities recruiting to satellite delivery points, introduced a level of complexity which impacted on the viability of the project.”

Angela Burns, Wales’ shadow education minister, told Wales Online that she was “shocked” at the “waste of taxpayers’ money” on the project.

The decision comes as jobs are put at risk by the university’s planned closure of its Carleon campus, near Newport.

The institution was adamant that its London site was not a “campus”, but it is described as such on the Docklands Academy website.

London campuses are likely to be made subject to further restrictions by the government. In their manifesto, the Conservatives said that they would be “clamping down” on the outposts.

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