Image: Cole Keister / Unsplash
Image: Cole Keister / Unsplash

Vague information on unaccredited courses “deceiving” students

Unaccredited degree courses which share the same name as accredited ones at different institutions are “misleading” students and harming their future careers, leaders warn.

For example, a BSc building surveying degree at the University of Reading is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institute of Building.

A degree with the same name at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David is unaccredited, which shows that not all identically titled degree courses are endorsed by professional bodies.

In response, Professor Julie Lydon, Chair of Universities Wales, stated: “Professional accreditation is not a measure of degree quality or a requirement for awarding a degree.

“Welsh universities’ degree courses are subject to robust, internationally-recognised, quality arrangements and our universities take seriously their obligations under consumer law and provide clear, accurate information to prospective students.”

Lee Waters, a member of the Welsh Assembly, sent a letter to education secretary Damian Hinds and Welsh education secretary Kirsty Williams regarding the accreditation of university degrees.

He wrote: “As A-level results day approaches, I’m worried that some students have signed up for university courses that are not what they seem.

“Universities running degree courses that are not recognised by professional bodies think they are covering themselves by saying their course will ‘help a student prepare for a career’ in their field.

“But this is deeply misleading. Certainly, courses can help you ‘prepare’ for a career, but there are clear advantages to accredited courses.

“It’s alarming that young people may not be given the full information about potential courses, whether this be from teaching staff, career advisors or universities themselves.”

He added that unaccredited degrees are “deception by omission”, since they may require students to take “additional qualifications” when looking for work after university.

It’s alarming that young people may not be given the full information about potential courses, whether this be from teaching staff, career advisors or universities themselves

– Lee Waters

A spokesperson for the Welsh government said that they will “continue to encourage industry accreditation”, and replied: “The accreditation status of a course should always be clear and institutions are not permitted to claim that courses are accredited when they are not.

“Prospective students already have access to a range of information, including the accreditation status of courses, via UCAS, Unistats, university websites as well as prospectuses and promotional material, including information on student satisfaction and employability related to their intended course.

They stated that the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales has affirmed that information provided by institutions was “in line with their legal requirements”.

A spokesperson for Universities UK said that while a range of official data and information is available, universities are “continuing to improve the information to students about courses to ensure that their experience matches their expectations”.

In March 2018, a graduate from Anglia Ruskin University in East Anglia sued her institution for over £60,000. She stated that although she was initially “won over” by the prospectus’s claims, the university did not live up to her expectations, and ultimately gave her a “Mickey Mouse” degree.

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