Students 'cheated to get degrees'

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The Independent Online

A registrar has resigned and three other members of college staff have been suspended following allegations that overseas students were cheating their way to degrees and visas, officials said today.







International students at Rayat London College in Hounslow, west London, were helped to cheat their way on to courses to gain visas and degrees accredited by the University of Wales, an investigation by BBC Wales claimed.



Irvin Harris, the college's registrar, denies any wrongdoing but was suspended by the college on Monday and resigned yesterday, a spokesman for the college said.



Three other members of staff have also been suspended pending an internal investigation.



The college spokesman added that the allegations had been referred to Scotland Yard and the UK Border Agency (UKBA).



A University of Wales spokesman added that it had also referred information "concerning potential criminal offences apparently involving staff at private colleges outside Wales to South Wales Police".



"The information includes allegations that overseas students have been helped to cheat their way on to programmes of study and to mislead educational establishments, including the University of Wales, and the UK Border Agency," he said.



"As the matter has been referred to the police, it would be inappropriate for the university to comment further at this stage."



Professor Medwin Hughes, the university's new vice-chancellor, announced on Monday that it would stop validating courses at all other institutions and only award degrees to students on courses designed and fully controlled by the university.



Prof Hughes said: "We believe the time is right for us to adopt a new academic strategy and only award University of Wales degrees to students on courses designed and fully controlled by the University of Wales.



"We are therefore proposing to bring the current validation model to a close."



He went on: "We have a duty of care to all students on existing programmes and will honour our current commitments to them.



"However, from next year, all universities in Wales will either have to use their own degree awarding powers or make other arrangements for the courses they run both locally and on a transnational basis.



"And our own international collaboration will now be based solely on courses designed and fully controlled by the University of Wales, embedded in our faculties and led by our own academic staff."



A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "On Friday September 30 police received an allegation of fraud at a private college in Hounslow. This allegation is being considered.



"No arrests have been made. The allegation has been passed to Hounslow CID."







Immigration minister Damian Green said: "The UK Border Agency is aware of these allegations and has already limited the number of students from outside of the EU that these colleges can recruit.

"We will investigate any reports of colleges and students who are abusing the visa system and we are currently working with accreditation bodies to ensure colleges play by the rules."

PA

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