South East Wales

Director resigns after University of Wales concerns

Fazley Yaakob
Image caption Fazley Yaakob has four hit albums to his name

The executive director of a Malaysian college offering University of Wales degree courses has resigned after questions about his own qualifications.

Fazley Yaakob, a pop star who runs the Fazley International College (FIC) in Kuala Lumpur, has two degrees from a bogus university.

Week In Week Out examined the way in which the University of Wales validated courses in overseas institutions.

The university has said concerns relate solely to Yaakob and not the courses.

The programme reveals that Yaakob claimed to have both a masters and a doctorate in business administration. But both were from a bogus university.

Yaakob, who has four hit albums to his name, claimed to have qualifications from the European Business School (Cambridge), an offshoot of the Irish International University - which was exposed as a sham by the BBC in 2008.

He said the University of Wales did not ask about his credentials, which were displayed prominently on the college website, until he was confronted by BBC Wales' education correspondent Ciaran Jenkins in Kuala Lumpur.

In his resignation letter, Yaakob said: "My role in Fazley International College is one of an investor.

"Though I hold a director's position, I have never been a part of the academic team nor have I sat at any of the academic meetings.

"As such, you can be assured that at no stage was the academic standards or the reputation of the university put at a compromise. To be honest I have only sat in at management meetings.

"Upon further reflection, I consider that to continue as a director could be damaging to the college, its student community and the dedicated staff who have worked hard to uphold the academic standards and integrity.

"It is quite clear that this continuing public controversy will undermine the reputation and the good relations between the college and the university, which I cannot, in any circumstances, allow.

'Public confidence'

"Therefore, I have decided to tender my resignation as the executive director of the college.

"It is my intention to keep fighting to clear my name and restore public confidence of my reputation.

"I sincerely apologise for having caused the university and its officials embarrassment.

"I do hope that the matter will be laid to rest and that the link between the university and FIC can be restored."

The University of Wales has suspended its relationship with the college - one of three educational institutions it collaborates with in Malaysia - following the controversy.

The university signed an agreement with FIC in 2007 and saw the first students admitted to its validated courses the following year, having gained provisional approvals from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.

But it has now decided not to recognise any additional admissions to its BA (Hons) Business Administration and MBA courses at the college until concerns have been fully investigated. The 35 students currently enrolled on University-validated courses will not be affected.

University vice chancellor Marc Clement said: "The principal doesn't himself teach on the course and I don't want to pre-judge the case, but I've taken this decision as a precaution to protect the reputation of the University of Wales.

"We are proud of the work we're doing internationally to take the educational values of a great Welsh institution to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to study on validated courses, and it is important this mission isn't diluted by doubts about any of collaborative centres.

"Our validation team is experienced and highly skilled and travels regularly to collaborative centres to check the quality of the provision and work with local people to build capacity.

"Their job is to validate the courses we recognise, not the institution itself, and we're confident the university's validated courses at FIC meet our high academic standards.

"Our concern relates solely to the fact that the head of the institution has informed us of a controversy relating to his personal academic qualifications.

"This would not normally be relevant to the validation process, but we feel we have a duty to go beyond the letter of our rules so that the integrity of our courses is beyond any doubt."

The University is the second largest degree awarding body in the UK after the University of London. In 2010, it awarded 20,000 degrees and other awards and had around 70,000 people studying on its courses, of which 13,704 were on validated programmes outside the UK.

Week In Week Out: University Challenged is available on the iPlayer for seven days from its transmission date, Tuesday, 9 November.

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