Memorandum submitted by the Accreditation
Service for International Colleges in response to the letter from
In 2007 ASIC, the Accreditation Service for
International Colleges, successfully applied to become a recognised
UKBA Accrediting Body. The rigorous approval process over a period
of three months was carried out by members of Ofsted and resulted
in Ofsted recommending ASIC's approval to UKBA. This process was
identical to that to which other accrediting bodies such as BAC
and Accreditation UK were subjected. ASIC was the only new organisation
of the several that applied to receive approval.
The Committee can confirm that ASIC was registered
with Companies House on 3 January 2007, Company No 06040297, and
that ASIC's accounts are available for inspection by the public.
The Company is a not for profit company and any surplus money
is donated to various charities, including the Rose Education
Foundation, established by Mr Dimmock and his wife, to support
orphans and other disadvantaged children in Malaysia, Thailand
and Sri Lanka and to provide scholarships for disadvantaged students.
To date nine scholarships have been provided to enable such students
to study at UK universities and colleges. It should be noted that
none of the directors or officers of ASIC takes any fees or salaries.thereby
increasing the Charitable donations. The Rose Education Foundation
was registered in November 2008 with the Charity Commission no
1126903; the accounts have been submitted to the relevant departments.
ASIC has adopted a rigorous, but supportive
approach to the accreditation of private colleges, which has been
much appreciated by the colleges themselves as evidenced by their
written feedback on our process.
Accreditation comprises three Stages:
Stage 1: submission by the college of
the Application and supporting documentation, which is scrutinised
by an Inspector, who identifies any shortcomings in the application
and requests the college to provide missing documents;
Stage 2: an inspection visit is undertaken
by one Inspector who concentrates on issues such as health and
safety, statutory requirements, relations with the awarding bodies,
the college's classroom facilities and student/staff files. Advice
is provided on unsatisfactory documentation and records; Time
is given to the colleges to correct any deficiencies found during
the stage 2 inspection.
Stage 3: a further visit, by two Inspectors,
one of whom is the Reporting Inspector, who drafts the final report
for consideration by the Accreditation Committee. This visit focuses
on management structures of the college and meetings are held
with the management team, a group of staff and two groups of students;
the approach to learning and teaching, including classroom observations,
and quality enhancement are also examined together with student
welfare and the college's relations with the Home Office.
The core group of inspectors, who are identified
in the Handbook, comprises largely ex-university staff with extensive
experience of international development procedures. All inspectors
subsequently recruited have received appropriate induction and
training to undertake the roles of Stage 2 Inspector, Stage 3
Reporting Inspector or Stage 3 Supporting Inspector as appropriate.
The names of the visiting inspectors are given to the college
before the Stage 2 and Stage 3 visits and all accredited colleges
have completed the feedback questionnaires alluded to above.
All draft final reports are checked and edited
by the Accreditation Advisor to ensure that all relevant points
have been covered, and that conclusions have been based on appropriate
ASIC has externally modest but appropriately
equipped and staffed offices. Priority has been deliberately given
to investing in responsiveness to all stakeholders in the process,
exemplified by the frequency of Accreditation Committee meetings,
rather than unnecessarily glossy premises.
ASIC has always worked meticulously to support
UKBA's remit to protect UK borders and has endeavoured to ensure
that only colleges which deliver genuine courses to genuine students
have been accredited. Any behaviour by colleges which ASIC has
considered to be inappropriate or suspicious in any way has regularly
been reported to UKBA, leading in some cases to the college being
closed. Records of the frequent contacts in this respect have
Finally, details of colleges which ASIC has
accredited, together with those moving through the accreditation
process are readily available on this website: www.asic.org.uk
1. ASIC did not exist in terms of a web presence
until its approval was announced in July 2007.
This is correct as we did not wish to misrepresent
who we were and what authority we were operating under.
2. There is a lack of management, governance
and financial structures.
This is totally incorrect as we are a Limited
Company, limited by Guarantee and a not for profit organisation.
Our accounts are available for inspection through Companies House.
We have monthly management meetings which are formally minuted.
These minutes are open for inspection by Ofsted as part of the
ongoing monitoring procedures of the accrediting bodies.
3. Its website provides no inspection reports
for its accredited colleges.
It was proposed by ourselves to the standards
and consistency meeting that we would include a full report of
each college on the web site. However, it was suggested that this
may contravene Data protection. The Standards and Consistency
meeting agreed to look at a standard format for inclusion of inspection
reports on web sites. This process is near to completion and it
is expected that a template will be available at the next meeting.
ASIC's reporting has always been transparent
and Final Reports for accredited colleges have been made available
to UKBA, Ofsted, the Sponsors' Liaison Unit and members of the
Serious Organised Crime Agency, all of whom have been impressed
by the information contained and their presentation.
All reports are carefully edited to ensure that
all aspects of accreditation have been covered and appropriate
It should be pointed out that none of the other
accrediting bodies include inspection report on their websites.
4. Its website does not include list of inspectors.
This is totally untrue as all our inspectors
are included in the Accreditation Handbook, which is downloadable
from the website. Colleges also receive full details of inspectors
prior to inspection.
None of the other accrediting bodies list the
names of their inspectors on their website.
5. Several of the colleges it accredits have
been linked with inappropriate activities.
It should be pointed out that a very few of
the colleges alluded to have indeed been accredited by ASIC. The
main issue is that we need to give two weeks notice of an impending
visit and obviously the college prepare accordingly in a similar
way to schools prepare for an Ofsted inspection or Universities,
a QAA inspection. Our decisions are based purely on evidence gained
during the three stage accreditation process.
The colleges alluded to in the Press and in
the letter include one college in Manchester which we failed and
alerted UKBA and other authorities as to our suspicions. This
resulted in the college being closed down and several arrests
being made. Another College in London, which has received considerable
press coverage, was accredited by us under its previous owners.
At this time the college were operating legitimately and had many
genuine students registered with approved accrediting bodies.
They had also just completed an agreement with the University
of Gloucestershire for transfer of their students to the final
year of a degree programme. It came to our notice that there had
been a change of ownership and that the new owners were operating
a scam. We decided to undertake an unannounced visit with two
of our experienced inspectors. This resulted in identification
of a problem and the various agencies informed. This again resulted
in the college being closed down. Unfortunately, this caused a
major problem for the genuine students studying at the college.
ASIC, however, were able to assist in placing some of these students
at other ASIC accredited colleges at no extra cost to the student.
This has prompted us to set up a student protection scheme, similar
to the Case Trust scheme in Singapore, to protect such students
in the future.
There have been many other instances where we
have assisted UKBA in identifying possible problems. ASIC are
in regular contact with UKBA and have had several meetings with
regional officers, especially in the North West.
We hope we have been able to demonstrate that
these allegations against ASIC are unfounded and that there appears
to be a conspiracy amongst some quarters to discredit what we
are doing. It is rather strange that no mention has been made
of the colleges in a similar position who have been accredited
by other accrediting bodies.
ASIC have been extremely vigilant in its accreditation
and supportive of UKBA in implementing the new PBS.
We would finally like to suggest areas in which
a slight change in the regulations would allow us to undertake
accreditation more robustly. The problem we had in Manchester
is that we noted the college could only accommodate approximately
120 students. It was then discovered that over a thousand visas
had been issued for this college. If we were informed of the number
of student visas issued for each college before inspection then
this would easily enable us to identify a scam. We think this
will rectify itself when the "CAS" system is operational
Another potential area of concern is that students
can still come into the country on a student visitor visa for
a period of less than six months. The condition is that they may
only study at an accredited college. This is going to be impossible
to police. Those colleges not accredited will bring students into
the country on programmes of less than six months and we know
this is already happening. These colleges do have a visit by the
compliance unit... we don't think.
May we conclude by thanking you for this opportunity
to respond to the letter from Baroness Warwick and hope it will
help you with your evidence sessions.