Investigation exposes British univeristy scam
January 18, 2008
__BBC London finds Irish International University to be a false institution__
The Irish International University, which offers foreign students the opportunity to study in London, was exposed as a scam by a BBC London investigation that aired Jan. 7, 2008.
p. The organization was found to be unaccredited and illegally using the designation of “university.” At the time of the investigation, over 5,000 students were reported to have obtained educational visas to enter Britain and take IIU courses and examinations at various private colleges around London.
p. IIU Executive President, Professor Hardeep Singh Sandu, claimed the program was accredited through the Quality Assurance Commission, an institution he described as an “independent body” maintaining the quality of education in the United Kingdom. However, further investigation revealed that the QAC was actually a virtual office owned by Sandhu himself.
p. Additionally, it was revealed that another unaccredited university in the Caribbean had awarded Sandhu’s doctorate degree, a Doctor of Letters.
p. Professor John Arnold of Loughborough University examined IIU coursework from a graduate of the institution.
p. “Students are paying for what I would regard as worthless and bogus qualifications,” he said. “You know, I really think that they’ll probably be getting qualifications which are unlikely to be taken seriously, at least in Western Europe.”
p. The deception was maintained largely through the sucess of a misleading website. The site provides large amounts of false information, including the existence of a Dublin campus. Upon visiting the address, BBC investigators found only a mailbox.
Jeffrey Wooller, a wealthy British accountant, serves as Honorary Chancellor of the university. In an interview with an undercover actor for the BBC posing as an academic, Wooller said that the IIU was not “recognized anywhere.”
p. Wooller refused to quit as Honorary Chancellor, stating that most IIU students were happy and that the university’s programs were a good value.
p. In addition to false program details, the website pictured IIU award ceremonies conducted at venerable institutions such as Cambridge and Oxford Universities.
p. “If you can mention Oxford [and] Cambridge, then the whole world thinks that it must be a good university,” Wooller said.
Following the BBC report, Cambridge and Oxford banned further use of their facilities for award ceremonies conducted by the IIU, and the IIU website was shut down.