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Lecturer linked to unrecognised degree-seller

A senior lecturer at Doncaster College is part of a business selling largely unrecognised degrees and making false claims to accreditation, The THES has learnt.

Philip Dunn, an accounting lecturer at Doncaster, is billed as a faculty member of the "Irish University Business School", a London-based business that sells postgraduate degrees that AMBA, the MBA watchdog, has called "relatively worthless".

He is also described as a professor at "St Clements University", a private "non-campus" institution registered in the West Indies that offers largely unrecognised degrees.

Doncaster said this week that it had no knowledge of Mr Dunn's freelance activities and promised an investigation.

The Irish University Business School is part of a network of degree-selling businesses run by Jeff Wooler, an accountant whom the Institute of Chartered Accountants fined in 1995 for advertising MBA courses that had no accreditation from any recognised university.

On its website, the school boasts that it offers distance-learning MBA courses for £1,500 with study "exemptions".

The site says the degrees are "accredited" by the International Council for Open and Distance Learning (ICDE), but this week the ICDE said the claim was "not correct and (was) misleading."

Claims that Irish University Business School degrees were "recognised" by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators and the Association of International Accountants were denied by those bodies.

A spokesman for the Irish Department of Education and Science said the qualifications were not validated by any Irish university or by the National Higher Education Training Awards Council.

Mr Dunn was head of Doncaster's professional administration unit until 1997, when he took a part-time lecturer's post.

He is listed as a "professor" at St Clements, which boasts accreditation by the World Association of Universities and Colleges, a US-led body that is not recognised by the US department of education. The "vice-president" of the WAUC is David Le Cornu, who is St Clements's administrative director.

Mr Dunn said: "The only comment I wish to make is that I have not, at any time, done work for the Irish University Business School and have never received any remuneration from them. I am simply listed on their faculty."

Mr Wooler said that he and Mr Dunn had been "friends for about ten years" and had collaborated on the Irish University Business School, but he added that Mr Dunn had done no work because "our total income is less than £15,000 a year and there is no way I need to use anyone other than myself. His name possibly should be removed. But he is very prominent with St Clements University."

Mr Wooler accepted that the reference to the ICDE accreditation was misleading and would be changed, but he insisted that the website made it clear that neither Irish organisation was a fully fledged university.

AMBA said that any qualification unknown to the average employer was "relatively worthless".

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