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Students duped by scam degrees' from bogus colleges

PUBLISHED: 18:00 27 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:08 05 October 2010

STUDENTS are being duped across London by scams where private colleges' are offering worthless degrees and false advertising about their education facilities. Now a task force is being set up to tackle the growing menace of bogus qualifications

By Mike Brooke

STUDENTS are being duped across London by scams where private colleges’ are offering worthless degrees and false advertising about education facilities.

Now a task force is being set up to tackle the growing menace of bogus qualifications.

The area worst hit is London’s East End, where would-be students have been conned into handing over cash for worthless qualification’ certificates.

Tower Hamlets Council, which has been waging war’ on scam colleges for two years, held a seminar yesterday to thrash out ways to crack down on false degrees from unaccredited bodies.

The aim was a London-wide task force to tackle the growing numbers of private colleges failing to comply with the 1988 Education Reform Act and the 2008 Consumer Protection regulations.

It involves other local authorities, educational institutes and organisations like the UK Border Agency and Office for Immigration.

“Many students are being duped,” said Tower Hamlets cabinet member Abdal Ullah.

“The proud reputation of British higher education could be damaged if unscrupulous organisations continue to take advantage. These operators are robbing people who are often too scared to come forward.”

There are at least 40 colleges known to be operating in the East End, the meeting was told. A significant number have “non-compliance issues” such as false claims on their affiliations, misleading advertising about their facilities and the degrees from unaccredited sources.

The Town Hall set up a college compliance’ group in 2007 after one high-profile successful conviction where a private college owner was fined £5,000 with £3,000 costs, plus £4,500 compensation to an overseas student after false internet advertising. Another prosecution is pending while other investigations are continuing.

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