Bogus Colleges (4) Continuing Correspondence

When I last gave an update on my minor obsession with the number of ‘bogus colleges’, I had written to BIS to ask whether all those who had been removed from the UKVI sponsor list were indeed ‘bogus’. Jo Johnson had said, by clear inference, that they were all ‘rogue providers and dodgy operators’.  I asked what impact that would have on a provider who was removed from the register but who BIS continued to designate for students gaining loans from the UK government to pay fees.

I asked, again, that if the Government does not know what proportion of those who have been removed from the register are bogus, then it should stop quoting the total number as if they were all ‘bogus’.

I’ve had a response.

Bogus letter

In most ways it is a study in refusing to answer the question; after all it was a BIS minister who aligned the number of providers no longer on the register with ‘rogue providers and dodgy operators’.  We are told

‘Where a sponsor is failing to meet their responsibilities as a sponsor their licence may be revoked. However, there is no data able [sic] on the reason for revocation’.

My contention is that a number, probably at least 100, have come off the Tier 4 register for entirely their own business choices.  Tier 4 sponsorship has changed since 2010.  If BIS has no data available on the reason for revocation, then surely its ministers cannot quote a number as representing ‘bogus colleges’.

And so I wait for the ‘comprehensive answer’ from the Home Office.  Meanwhile I’ve asked for the list of those removed from the sponsor list so I can try counting them myself.

Update

Still waiting for the Home Office, but at least they’ve apologised for the delay in getting me the information.

HO

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Civic rivalry in the Northern Powerhouse

This issue of northern civic identity has come up courtesy of the Prime Minister’s ‘joke’:

We just thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else – we didn’t realise they hated each other so much.

The issue being that the difference of opinion between different civic bodies as to the correct structure for devolution.  Within the ‘northern powerhouse’ there are excellent models of academic cooperation to contrast with this.  However, it hasn’t always been straightforward.

The founding of the civic universities was closely linked with the civic interests of the major cities.  Manchester had a head start with Owens College, but when it asked that this be raised to a University, there was a reaction from other towns and cities, and a federal university was created.  The Victoria University only had Owens as a member, but Liverpool’s new University College was admitted soon.  In Leeds, the Yorkshire College of Science had to broaden its curriculum into arts before it could be admitted.

It was Joseph Chamberlain who indirectly broke up this trans-Pennine collaboration when he obtained University title for Birmingham. Civic pride in Liverpool demanded their own university, and they petitioned to break up the Victoria University. Owens College was content with that, but the Yorkshire College was not. It raised counter-petitions and the Privy Council convened a special committee to hear the case for and against. It was decided that the federal university should be split.

The college in Leeds, having argued strongly for the benefits of a federal university, was given the option of creating a new federal university – an unwelcome concession. They wanted to retain the Yorkshire title, but its county-wide scope lent itself to the argument that they should allow other colleges to federate. Sheffield had such a college, and others towns such as Hull wanted to develop them.

The matter went back to the Privy Council – this time the competitive petitions were from Leeds and Sheffield. The members gave Leeds’ arguments short shrift. The file shows how the Clerk collated responses – and the copy of Lord Rosebery’s letter gives the sense of their frustration.

IMG_3927

The Yorkshire University was doomed. The Privy Council calmly amended the draft charter from ‘Yorkshire’ to ‘Leeds’ and rapidly afterwards Sheffield had a charter too.

However, there was an outcome of these discussions – each of the new universities had a clause inserted in their charters that they had to consult each other about new courses to avoid unhelpful competition and they had to share membership of their Courts.  So, as the new civic universities embarked on their separate corporate existences, they were mandated by government to collaborate.  Different times.

Bogus Colleges (3) ‘Struck Off’ but still with designated courses

Just a short update on my correspondence with government about ‘bogus colleges’.  I say ‘with’, but really it’s my correspondence at government, as they’re not really keen on replying.

Previously I have explained my pedantic concern that government has taken an ill-defined term such as ‘bogus college’, and given it a number.   There exists a continuum of places from the downright illegal (really – prosecutions ought to have been pursued) through the not very good, the unfortunate and, finally, a group who were on the wrong bit of the register and came off.    The outcome of all these different positions is that providers have been removed from the Tier 4 register of sponsors.   The number is simply those who have come off, minus a few who appealed and went back on.  Ministers insist on calling all of these ‘bogus colleges’.

So, when the latest net migration figures came out, James Brokenshire listed the measures that the government had taken. He was quoted as saying:

 “We have slashed student fraud, struck off nearly 900 bogus colleges, and toughened access to welfare and housing. But with nearly 100,000 non-EU students remaining in the UK at the end of their courses and British business still overly reliant on foreign workers in a number of sectors, there is much more to do.”

Nearly 900 bogus colleges and they’ve been ‘struck off’ – not that they’ve left the register because it didn’t suit them, or that they’ve changed business title.  Naturally, I’ve written in to the Home Office for the list of the ‘nearly 900’.

I’d written to Jo Johnson at BIS about the ‘bogus colleges’ number, but as I’d not heard back, I thought I’d test out their assumption.  Clearly ministers believe everyone who is removed (or struck off) from the register is a ‘bogus college’ (that’s the government’s logic – I refute that).   Johnson has explained that the  government was protecting international students from such ‘rogue providers and dodgy operators’.  I’ve written to ask what happens to London School of Business & Finance now.  LSBF was removed from the Register on 1 September.  As LSBF are now counted among the ‘rogue providers and dodgy operators’ does that impact on the designation of their courses for student loans?  It probably doesn’t as St Patrick’s has had its licence revoked since April, but remains designated.

The point is, I think, that you can be removed from UKVI’s sponsor list and not be a ‘bogus college’.  In which case, ministers really need to stop quoting that number.