University of Wales suspends relations with Malaysian college pending inquiry

Posted on 6 November 2010
The University of Wales has suspended its relationship with Fazley International College (FIC), one of three educational institutions it collaborates with in Malaysia, after its principal recently drew attention to a dispute over his own academic qualifications.

The University signed an agreement with FIC in 2007 and saw the first students admitted to its validated courses the following year, having gained provisional approvals from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.

However, the University has now decided not to recognise any additional admissions to its BA (Hons) Business Administration and MBA courses at the college until concerns about the principal’s qualifications have been fully investigated. The 35 students currently enrolled on University-validated courses will not be affected.

“The principal doesn’t himself teach on the course, and I don’t want to pre-judge the case, but I’ve taken this decision as a precaution to protect the reputation of the University of Wales,” said Marc Clement, the University’s Vice Chancellor.

“We are proud of the work we’re doing internationally to take the educational values of a great Welsh institution to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to study on validated courses, and it is important this mission isn’t diluted by doubts about any of collaborative centres.

“Our validation team is experienced and highly skilled and travels regularly to collaborative centres to check the quality of the provision and work with local people to build capacity.

“Their job is to validate the courses we recognise, not the institution itself, and we’re confident the University’s validated courses at FIC meet our high academic standards.
“Our concern relates solely to the fact that the head of the institution has informed us of a controversy relating to his personal academic qualifications.

“This would not normally be relevant to the validation process, but we feel we have a duty to go beyond the letter of our rules so that the integrity of our courses is beyond any doubt.”

The University is the second largest degree awarding body in the UK after the University of London. In 2010, it awarded 20,000 degrees and other awards and had around 70,000 people studying on its courses, of which 13,704 were on validated programmes outside the UK.

Revenue from validating overseas courses is ploughed back into higher education in Wales through the funding of research posts and scholarships, including a £3m contribution to the prestigious Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarships.

Conscious of the importance of protecting its brand, the University commissioned a risk review in 2008 to identify steps it needed to take to ensure validated courses meet the highest standards. While the findings of the risk review have not yet been published, the University has already taken steps to address some of the issues identified in the review process, including creating its own in-house Faculty to provide academic support and ending courses delivered in languages other than English or Welsh at seven overseas institutions.*

“We’re very conscious of our responsibilities as an award granting body in an international context,” added Marc Clement. “We won’t allow any associations to put our standing at risk and will investigate complaints and issues wherever there appears to be a case to answer.”

Media inquiries to Antony Jones/Angharad Neagle on 02920 545383 or antony.jones@freshwater-uk.com and angharad.neagle@freshwater-uk.com
* The University of Wales is continuing to validate courses in those languages in which it has specialist expertise.

Notes
The University of Wales’ validated provision at FIC was considered as part of the Quality Assurance Agency’s (QAA) overseas audit of UK HE provision in Malaysia in 2010. The QAA for Higher Education is the body that checks how effectively UK universities and colleges meet their responsibility for maintaining academic standards both in the UK, and wherever in the world those degrees are offered.

Three representatives from the QAA visited FIA in March and, while making some recommendations to develop the relationship, concluded that they had ‘confidence in the University’s management of academic standards and systems for the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of learning opportunities for students studying under its collaborative arrangements overseas.’ (See: http://www.qaa.ac.uk/reviews/international/malaysia10)




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