University grants access to dissertations for BBC investigation

The Quality Assurance Agency said they had not received any complaints about any issue at Bangor University

ABERYSTWYTH University has granted BBC Wales access to their Master of Business Administration (MBA) dissertations. The work will be used by an investigation into allegations from academic staff working in Welsh institutions that they are pressured to accept substandard work for financial reasons.

Speaking to the BBC, one anonymous lecturer said that standards of some courses are lowered so that university authorities can secure funding from international students.  He said that colleagues share the concerns he has about the standard of work he feels pressured to accept, but very few are prepared to speak out. It is not known which institution the whistleblower works for.

BBC Wales News asked all Welsh universities that issue MBAs to grant their investigation access to all of their MBA dissertations. Cardiff University, Aberystwyth University, Swansea University and University of Wales, Trinity St Davids have agreed to this. Cardiff Metropolitan University and University of Wales, Newport will allow access to a sample of dissertations. The University of Glamorgan’s refusal to grant the BBC access to their dissertation under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act is currently under appeal.

Postgraduate dissertations being held at Bangor University have come under scrutiny in the investigation, with 20 submitted in the 2009-2011 period being highlighted as having fundamental grammatical errors. One dissertation produced by an international student was titled “Brief Analyse Slack Season Marketing Management in Modern China Garment SMEs”. The lecturer who spoke to the BBC has never worked at Bangor University.

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (Hefcw) said the quality and standards of education provided in Welsh higher education are assessed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). The QAA said they had not received any complaints about any issue at Bangor University, however did say that when concerns raised by students, staff or other parties “indicate serious systemic or procedural problems – and are supported by evidence” they will “conduct a detailed investigation.”