University of Wales helps 650 stranded Tasmac students

Staff from the University of Wales addressed a meeting of former Tasmac students on Monday Staff from the University of Wales addressed a meeting at the Tasmac college

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The University of Wales (UoW) has set up an email helpline to assist hundreds of students from a London college which closed suddenly.

Tasmac London School of Business awarded degrees validated by the UoW until it ceased trading on Friday.

Many of the 650 overseas students had paid thousands of pounds in fees to the private college before it went under.

The UoW said it was working to transfer the students onto courses at other partner colleges.

Three representatives of the UoW attended meetings with former Tasmac students in London on Monday.

The BBC was told that the meetings were at times "emotional", with some students said to be angry and others in a state of shock.

Students for the Masters in Business (MBA) course had paid £7,850 in fees for the degree validated by the UoW.

Start Quote

These changes have not only impacted Tasmac, they have impacted many more colleges that could be shut down”

End Quote Sameer Dua Tasmac UK, joint managing director

Students on the courses came from countries including India, Nigeria, Cameroon, Syria, Egypt and Ukraine, with the largest group from Nepal.

Sameer Dua, who was the joint managing director of Tasmac UK business school, left the UK at the weekend and spoke to the BBC from India.

Mr Dua said the decision to close the college was the result of changes in UK visa regulations brought in by the UK Borders Agency (UKBA).

He said: "These changes have not only impacted Tasmac, they have impacted many more colleges that could be shut down.

"Most of our students are non-EU students. All these students require visas to come. It became difficult to sustain ourselves."

The collapse of Tasmac college is the latest difficulty faced by the UoW.

Its new vice chancellor, Prof Medwin Hughes, announced last week that it would stop validating degrees in the UK or overseas.

Start Quote

Tasmac is extremely unlikely to transfer any... tuition fees towards the new colleges as the company has gone into liquidation in the UK”

End Quote Joanna Oman Tasmac School of Business former marketing manager

A separate BBC investigation for the Week In Week Out programme uncovered a scam where overseas students were helped to cheat their way to UoW validated degrees and visas.

The Metropolitan Police and the UKBA carried out raids following the programme.

The investigation did not involve Tasmac college.

Mr Dua said the academic standards of Tasmac UK had full approval with the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).

He said: "We feel terrible. We are working on ensuring that the students are transferred to an alternative collaborative college so that the students can complete the programme they have come to the UK to pursue."

Asked if the students would get their fees back, Mr Dua repeated that the problems were "sector-wide" but gave no further information.

Staff at Tasmac college in Wembley were called to an emergency meeting last Thursday evening when they were told the college was shutting down immediately. Vans arrived to remove computers and furniture.

Joanna Oman, who was formerly marketing manager for Tasmac School of Business, criticised the school's directors.

She said: "Tasmac is extremely unlikely to transfer any... tuition fees towards the new colleges as the company has gone into liquidation in the UK."

Ms Oman said the students' existing visas were tied to a place at Tasmac college and it would be very difficult to get a new one.

'Distance learning'

The UoW was approached by the BBC to answer further questions about the collapse of Tasmac UK but has not responded.

On Monday, the UoW issued a statement which said it was in talks with other colleges over the transfer of former Tasmac students.

The statement said: "The university has been in discussions with other collaborative centres to arrange for the 650 students on University of Wales programmes to transfer to programmes at these institutions.

"If students do have to leave the country for any reason the university will offer the opportunity to transfer them on to a distance-learning programme."

The statement added: "Students also have the option of taking an exit qualification."

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