A bit like the dark web, there is a network of providers operating at the fringes, lurking in the shadows.
There are providers delivering qualifications that may be broadly categorised as ‘higher education’ even though they do not lead to the award of a UK degree.
This may be because the qualification is an award delivered by a UK campus of an institution that is based overseas, or because the qualification is below degree level e.g. a diploma or certificate. These complexities can give rise to confusion among potential students and some unscrupulous providers exploit this by not giving clear information on their websites about their status, nor the status of their courses and the qualifications they offer.
The Department for Education and HEDD receive enquiries from students who believe they are following courses leading to a recognised UK degree due to misinformation from providers. This is particularly common for distance learning or online provision.
If we believe the provider is deliberately misleading students we contact them to ask them to remove information from their website or clarify their status. After 30 days we add their details to the university look up service on HEDD to make it clear they are not recognised degree-awarding bodies.
We have had a number of websites contact us to complain about being so explicit about their status – even threatening us with legal action – but we stand firm.
When a student contacts us because their parents have spent thousands of pounds, remortgaged their house and made huge sacrifices to send them to a UK university, only to find out that it’s not accredited and they have spent their money for nothing, we know we are doing the right thing.