QAA finds London branch campuses "well managed"

19, January, 2015

An investigation by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has found that London branch campuses of UK universities are “generally well founded and effectively managed”, contrary to previous concerns regarding visa fraud.

The University of Liverpool in London, one of the London branch campuses reviewed in the QAA report that found branch campuses "well founded and effectively managed"

The enquiry, which covered 13 London branch campuses with a total of 8,484 students, was ordered by Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, in June last year following investigations into English language testing fraud and the suspension of highly trusted sponsor status from 57 private colleges and one university.

QAA identified areas of risk at the universities, but concluded that the universities were taking appropriate measures to address these concerns.

QAA Chief Executive, Anthony McClaren, said, “Our reviewers found that in general universities had carefully considered their plans to set up and operate a base in the capital, and the risks involved with setting up a London campus. Crucially, although establishing a London campus is not straightforward, we found that universities are responding well to those challenges and taking them seriously.”

Most of the London campuses have been established in the last five years. “The main reason was to increase the recruitment of international students who would be more attracted to London than to the home campus,” said QAA said in the report.

There were several different operational models for the campuses, including franchise-based collaborative partnerships, wholly owned subsidiaries and partnerships with private organisations.

Areas of potential risk identified included: differing progression rates and achievement outcomes for London-based students compared with students at the home campus; a different campus experience to that offered in the home campus; inadequate published information; and insufficient checks on student entry qualifications.

The usage of agents for international student recruitment was another area of potential risk investigated. QAA recommended that, “Universities should ensure that this can be mitigated by regular appraisals of agents’ performance.” The report noted that there was a lack of control over admissions at one campus where recruitment had been placed in the hands of a private organisation, while another provider had cancelled a contract with an agency due to the poor quality of some applications.

Glyndwr University was suspended from HTS status over concerns about the English language qualifications of international students at its London campus, where around 230 students held invalid Toeic test certificates. The suspension was subsequently lifted at the home campus in Wales, but the Home Office ordered a number of changes before the London campus can resume recruitment.


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