Oxford duped by bogus uni

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Oxford has been giving credibility to a fake university by allowing it to use Univerity premises, a BBC investigation has revealed.The documentary exposed the ‘Irish International University,’ which has hired rooms in the Divinity School near the Bodilean Library for academic ceremonies, even though the IIU has been told repeatedly to stop claiming university status. Photos of the ‘Convocation’ ceremonies were posted on the organisation’s website.Although it claimed to have a campus in Dublin, the IIU exists only as a business with a postal address. The organisation approached Oxford to host cermonies after it was denied a venue at Cambridge.In Michaelmas Cherwell revealed that a British-Malaysian company, Oxford Centre for Leadership, had held ‘graduation’ ceremonies for its ‘5-day Millionaires MBA programme’ at Keble, and used images of the college on its website. Keble subsequently banned the company from hiring out its facilities again.Seán Ó Foghlú, Chief Executive of the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland said, “The Irish International University is not a recognised higher education institution in Ireland, nor are its awards nationally recognised in this country.”“In Ireland the title of “University” is regulated. The Irish International University is registered only as a business name. In fact, [the Department of Education and Science have] written to IIU on a number of occasions instructing them to cease using the term University.”A spokesperson for Oxford said, “Oxford University will not be renting its facilities to the Irish International University in the future. This is not an institution with which we wish to develop a relationship.”The BBC also discovered that the IIU’s Honorary Chancellor, His Excellency Baron Knowth was actually Professor Jeffrey Wooller, a chartered accountant from London. His professorship was awarded by IIU, and his ‘Baron’ title has been purchased.The IIU’s web pages also promised that its degrees are backed by the ‘Quality Assurance Commission’, an organisation which was discovered to be owned by the IIU’s Executive President, Prof. Hardeep Singh Sandhu.In a statement, the IIU argued that the accusations of deception were unfounded.It read, “The BBC investigation into an education scam perpetrated by a UK private college in the United Kingdom should be well applauded in undressing the true art of corrupt educational practices but not in the expense of the Irish International University; a reported story with no true essence.”“Yes the ceremonies held are for graduates from various study centres in Africa and Asia as we have always claimed to be a ‘Transnational University’ , thus Oxford and Cambridge for its educational image was used for graduation, not seduction.”The IIU had booked a dinner in September last year at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, but was denied the venue after further investigation by the college. The IIU was then able to book an room in Oxford at short notice to host its ‘Eighth Convocation ceremony’, held on 29 September at Convocation House in the Bodleian Library. According to the IIU’s website the ‘European Gala Event & Networking’ was also held last year at the Divinity School.A Cambridge University spokesperson said, “Regrettably from time to time others attempt unfairly to trade off our internationally renowned reputation. The university’s solicitors have objected on a number of occasions to IIU’s use of logos and other material which falsely suggest an association or connection with the University.”Gregory Hayman, Head of Communications at Cambridge University explained that the IIU had approached individual colleges to use their conference facilities. He explained that each college has its own policy on renting out its property but said it seemed that the IIU had “slipped through the net by booking rooms for functions out of term time.”The organisation has 5,000 students worldwide, thousands of graduates, and encourages foreigners to spend thousands of pounds in return for one of its qualifications.by Nadya Thorman

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