Man given job of closing bogus colleges was sacked by university
From The Times
June 29, 2009
A company awarded an important role in the Governments attempt to shut down hundreds of bogus colleges is run by a man who was dismissed from his post at a university, The Times has discovered.
Maurice Dimmock is the director and chief executive of an organisation that inspects and accredits private colleges which want to admit foreign students. The Accreditation Service for International Colleges (ASIC) has given 180 institutions the stamp of approval since he set it up in 2007.
Among them is a Manchester college that The Times exposed last month as the front for an immigration scam which helped 1,000 fake students to enter or stay in Britain.
Another, in London, issued more than 2,500 bogus postgraduate diplomas in two months last year, earning its owners who have fled the country an estimated 5 million.
The head office of ASIC, one of seven government-approved accreditation bodies, is a semi-detached house in a village near Middlesbrough. The company has five staff. Its directors are Mr Dimmock, 59, and his wife, Margaret, 52. The company secretary is her 78-year-old father.
Until 2003 Mr Dimmock was the director of international operations at Northumbria University, with responsibility for overseas students. He and the university have refused to discuss why his employment was terminated, but The Times has established that the Home Office received, and ignored, concerns about ASIC and Mr Dimmock before it granted the company a contract.Northumbria University wrote to the Home Office in May 2007 to question the role the company was about to be given in distinguishing between genuine and bogus colleges. Two months later Universities UK, representing Britains 133 universities, wrote to Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, to express concern about the decision to approve ASIC as one of the accreditation bodies within the new immigration system.
In a letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee, which has responded to articles in The Times by holding an inquiry into bogus colleges, Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe, chief executive of Universities UK, raised further doubts about ASIC. She said: There is a lack of information and transparency about (ASICs) management, governance and financial structures. Several of the colleges that it accredits have been associated with inappropriate activities.
In November, ASIC accredited Kings College of Management, Manchester, which claimed to have 67 students. The Times disclosed last month that it had enrolled 1,178 foreigners and was offering places to another 1,575. Individuals at the college were selling diplomas and faking attendance records to fool the authorities into granting students leave to stay in Britain.
Mr Dimmock told The Times that ASIC had rejected 15 of the 195 colleges that it had inspected, including Manchester College of Professional Studies. It claimed to have 50 students, but secretly enrolled 1,797, including 8 of the 10 Pakistani citizens arrested in April for suspected involvement in an al-Qaeda terror plot.
Mr Dimmock said that ASIC used 25 inspectors, many of them former university professors experienced in international education. Their attempts to separate genuine colleges from those involved in immigration fraud were hampered, he said, by the Home Offices refusal to tell ASIC how many student visas were issued for each college it inspects. We dont see ourselves purely as acting as policemen. We are there to identify those colleges which are genuine, as far as we can see, he said.
A UK Border Agency spokesman confirmed that concerns about ASIC had been passed to the Home Office, but said that the Home Office relied on the recommendations of Ofsted in determining which accreditation bodies should receive contracts.
An Ofsted spokewoman said that it had assessed ASIC before it became an approved accreditation body in 2007 and was satisfied that it was operating in a satisfactory manner.
There is no suggestion that most of the 180 colleges accredited by ASIC are linked to immigration scams.
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Miserably failed government in all sectors. Especially Business & Education sector.
Niresh, Baker Street, United Kingdom
A lot of this type of operation exists in UK. It is just quid pro quo. A lot of people benefit from it viz. individuals, govt officials, politicians etc. Why does it happen? No one knows but the most clear contributor is the New Labours half baked policies & laws introduced since 1997.
N Karthikeyan, Chennai, India
It would seem we need to not only clean up Praliament but also the Civil Service and the Contracts it has placed over the life of this Manure Parliament.