University of Wales chair told to go over visa scam

The chairman of the University of Wales (UoW) council should stand down, Education Minister Leighton Andrews has said.

He called for D Hugh Thomas's resignation after a BBC investigation into a student visa scam at colleges offering UoW-validated courses.

The publicity was damaging Wales and "mismanagement" could not be allowed to undermine the sector, he said.

The university said it was "currently reviewing" the minister's statement.

Mr Andrews said he had made "repeated calls" to the university's governing body to take responsibility for failings after allegations about its external validation arrangements.

The UoW's reputation was hit again when BBC Wales' Week in Week Out programme found overseas students were being made offers to cheat their way to UoW-validated degrees and UK graduate work visas.

'Exercise effective oversight'

Mr Andrews said: "The continuing adverse publicity attached to the University of Wales is damaging not just to the institution but to the Welsh higher education sector and to Wales as a whole.

"In view of the further allegations made in the press last week, I believe it is untenable for the University of Wales to continue under its current leadership.

"The very least we should expect is that those who hold senior positions of governance in our higher education institutions should exercise effective oversight of their university's operations and take full responsibility for their stewardship."

Shadow education minister Angela Burns said: "The individuals responsible must be held to account for their failings, which have damaged the reputation of the entire Welsh higher education sector.

"The University of Wales now needs drastic reform to establish a future role in complementing Wales's higher education institutions."

Raided premises

The minister wished UoW vice-chancellor Prof Medwin Hughes well in his post, which he took up last week.

Five universities called for the UoW brand to be scrapped in the wake of the BBC's investigation.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has raided premises as part of an operation launched in response to the claims.

On Friday, Glyndwr University in Wrexham announced it was pulling students out of UoW degrees and Newport University said it was "highly likely" to deliver its own degrees in the future.

UoW vice-chancellor Prof Hughes has said he wants to repair the UoW's "tarnished" brand, rather than ditch it.

In response to Mr Andrews' statement, the University of Wales (UoW) said: "We are currently reviewing the written statement issued by the Education Minister Leighton Andrews today."

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