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Lib Dems: Questions over Glyndwr Uni not answered

Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Aled Roberts has said important questions about alleged visa fraud involving Glyndwr University have not been answered.

We need to establish whether there is a wider problem in the sector as a whole, particularly with regard to any satellite campuses outside Wales.

Staff, students and everyone involved in the sector will want to know how this situation has come about and what is being done to assist those concerned.

Whilst the issue of student visas is a matter for the UK Government, funding of university places remains very much the responsibility of the Welsh Minister and I was hoping that today the Minister could provide me with reassurance.

Unfortunately, that was not the case and I have asked the Minister for a meeting with him and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to discuss the way forward.

Questions also need to be answered as to why issues regarding English language ability were not picked up during quality assurance checks by the QAA.

– Aled Roberts, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson

Plaid Cymru: Are other Welsh universities affected?

Plaid Cymru education spokesperson Simon Thomas said he is concerned that the Education Minister "could not tell me today whether any other Welsh university could be affected by similar visa failures and the lack of clarity on quality assurance", after Glyndwr University was implicated.

Clearly, if several hundred or more overseas students did not pass English language proficiency tests properly then you would assume their lack of English would be picked up by the quality assurance regime which is the responsibility of HEFCW and the university itself.

This is very troubling. Roughly 3,040 of Glyndwr's 8,800 students are from non-EU countries overseas. This means it is a considerable stream of funding. This is a concern both for the university and for thousands of students studying at the university.

– Simon Thomas AM, Plaid Cymru education spokesman


Minister launches investigation into Glyndwr Uni visas

The Education Minister has said has asked the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to look into Glyndwr University's involvement in alleged student visa fraud - and "wider issues that may be raised by this case."

Huw Lewis said he was frustrated as the Home Office had not warned him of the news.

The North Wales institution has had its right to recruit overseas students suspended, after an investigation into cheating on English language tests, implicating a number of universities and colleges around the UK.

Huw Lewis told Assembly Members the news "has potentially serious implications - not just for the institution - but for the reputation of the Welsh higher education sector as a whole".

He said he has already asked HEFCW to look into it, and will be meeting the body's chair and chief executive on 1 July "to take stock."

Academics union calls for Glyndwr Uni resignations

The University and College Union has again called for the resignation of the leadership at Glyndwr University, after the North Wales institution was suspended from recruiting overseas students.

At least 230 overseas students at Glyndwr have been identified as having 'invalid' English language test results.

Members of the academics union recently voted in favour of strike action, in a dispute over 60 potential job losses.

Union bosses have repeatedly called on the university's vice chancellor and chair of governors to resign because of what they describe as its "increasingly worrying financial situation."

Margaret Phelan from UCU Wales said today: "This latest announcement from the Home Office adds yet more weight to our members' calls for the university leadership to resign. It is clear that there are serious problems with how Glyndwr is being run and those in charge need to be held accountable."

Glyndwr Uni 'put in this position by external partners'

Glyndwr University says it is "deeply upset" to have had its licence to sponsor overseas students has been suspended.

A spokesperson for the North Wales university said: "To be put in this position by external partners is frustrating as Glyndwr University takes its responsibility as a Highly Trusted Sponsor very seriously."

The University is deeply upset that its sponsor licence has been suspended by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and is working with them to investigate the issues raised.

We have partnerships with a number of suppliers and are incredibly disappointed to have been the subject of any deception or activity that would put that licence under threat.

To be put in this position by external partners is frustrating as Glyndwr University takes its responsibility as a Highly Trusted Sponsor very seriously and is committed to supporting the continuing education of those genuine international students who demonstrate full compliance with their immigration requirements.

The University has been working closely with UKVI in a bid to improve its operations at the Elephant and Castle campus and will continue to do so. A new investigation team has been set-up and will respond to the points raised so that this issue can be resolved and the University’s licence reinstated.

– Glyndwr University spokesperson

Glyndwr University has right to sponsor foreign students suspended

Glyndwr University has had its right to sponsor foreign students suspended, after an investigation into fraud in the student visa system at a large number of universities and colleges around the UK.

Glyndwr University has had its highly-trusted sponsor status suspended.

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said an inquiry had found evidence of 'organised criminality' over falsified English language tests, and up to 48,000 overseas students potentially may have falsely obtained English language certificates.

He said 230 students sponsored by North Wales' Glyndwr University have so far been identified as having 'invalid' test results - with another 120 being described as 'questionable.'

Mr Brokenshire said: "the Home Office suspended the highly-trusted sponsor status – that is the right to sponsor foreign students – of Glyndwr University."

"In addition, we have suspended the licences of 57 private further education colleges."

"We have told a further two universities – the University of Bedfordshire and the University of West London – that they are no longer allowed to sponsor new students pending further investigations which will decide whether they too should be suspended."


Foreign students kicked out of university lose case

The foreign students could now be asked to leave the UK.

Over 30 international students who were kicked off their Glyndwr University courses for not doing enough work today failed in a High Court challenge to the college's decision. The mostly Asian accountancy students were part of a wider group who were accused of poor attendance.

But when the case reached the court today, a senior judge rejected their legal challenge to Glyndwr's decision. Each were ordered to pay £500 in legal costs.

The decision means their status in the UK will be reviewed by the Home Office, which will decide whether or not they can stay. However, there was a reprieve for another 23 students, who were told their cases would be looked at again by course bosses.

The students' barrister, Al Mustakim said many of the students had been ill or had been unable to sign in when classes were spot-checked because they were on the toilet.

St Asaph: Glyndwr University helps with telescope project

An artist's impression of the finished telescope Credit: Working Word PR

A team at Glyndwr University St. Asaph are working on a €5m project aiming to help mankind see to within a millisecond of the 'Big Bang'.

A team of 15 engineers are working on prototype mirrors for the 39m telescope, which will be the largest optical and near-infrared telescope in the world.

The telescope, due to be built in Chile in 2023, will eventually need over 900 specialist mirrors.

Glyndwr University says it is determined to secure the manufacturing of the mirrors in north-east Wales. It's claimed the move could create over 60 jobs and contribute €150m to the local economy.

Glyndwr University St Asaph, home to engineers working on the telescope Credit: Working Word PR