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The decision by the University of Wales to cease validating degrees from independent suppliers from 2012 will force several high-profile MBA suppliers to look for other validation agencies if they are to continue to offer their degrees.
Institutions affected will include the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), with its “Facebook MBA”, and the Lorange Institute of Business in Zurich, set up by Peter Lorange, the former supremo at IMD. Online MBA suppliers such as RDI in the UK and Robert Kennedy College in Switzerland will also be affected.
In a statement, the University of Wales said in future it would only award degrees to students on courses designed and fully controlled by the university. Institutions affected by the changes have been given a notice period of one year. The move follows a raid by UK border agency staff on a institution In London which offered University of Wales validated degree.
In the 2009/10 academic year the University of Wales made £10.1m of its £15.4m income from its validation services, according to its annual review.
Though the vast majority of the degrees validated by the university are taught by universities in Wales, such as the Universities of Cardiff or Aberystwyth, nearly 10 per cent of the programmes are from independent suppliers. The university validates more than 200 MBA and masters degrees in business for example, more than half of which are taught in the UK.
LSBF has been one of the biggest beneficiaries: the University of Wales validates 9 MBA programmes from LSBF, including the “Facebook MBA” launched in November 2010, and 13 specialised masters degrees. A spokesperson for the organisation said it was still in discussions with the University of Wales but was also in advanced discussions with at least two other UK universities about validation. Uclan in Lancashire already validates LSBF’s undergraduate degrees, according to the spokesperson, and Bradford University is involved with LSBF in an LLM degree in International Business Law.
The University of Wales also validates the MBA and eight specialised masters programmes taught at the Lorange Institute, which Prof Lorange set up in July 2009 through the purchase of the private business school GSBA on the shores of Lake Zurich. In November 2010 the school was accredited by the Association of MBAs, the London-based accreditation agency.