Concerned over deception: Lee Waters AM

LLANELLI AM Lee Waters has called on the Welsh Government to take action against Universities marketing degree courses that are not what they seem.

The Welsh Labour AM has written to Welsh Education Secretary Kirsty Williams to demand that Universities make clear to students that they could be leaving with a “half-baked qualification” if their degree course is not professionally accredited.

The Assembly Member is warning that while many Universities offer accredited Degrees, others are marketing identically titled courses but without making clear that they don’t have the endorsement of professional bodies, which means that students may have to take costly additional qualifications before they can get jobs.

“As A-level results day approaches, I’m worried that some students have signed up for University courses that are not what they seem. A Degree that is not accredited may look the same to a 17-year-old and their parents, and they certainly cost the same, but a degree that isn’t professionally recognised may require students to take additional qualifications before they can get jobs”, Lee Waters said.

In his letter to Kirsty Williams, he cites the example of the BSc (Hons) full time Building Surveying degree at the University of Reading which is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institute of Building. However, the BSc (Hons) full time Building Surveying at Trinity Saint David’s is unaccredited.

Other examples include:

BSc (Hons) full time Software Engineering course which is accredited at Swansea University by the Chartered Institute of IT. But the identically titled course at at Cardiff Metropolitan is unaccredited.

BSc (Hons) full time Degree in Marine Geography at Cardiff University which is accredited by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology. The BSc (Hons) full time Marine and Coastal Geography at Trinity Saint David’s is unaccredited.

The BSc (Hons) full time Real Estate course at Glasgow Caledonian University is accredited by both the Chartered Institute of Building and the Royal Institution of Surveyors. However, the BSc (Hons) full time Real Estate course at Glyndwr in Wrexham is unaccredited.

“This is deception by omission. The accredited course will give students a headstart when it comes to getting a job in their chosen industry. Universities running degree courses that are not recognised by professional bodies think they are covering themselves by saying their course will ‘help a student prepare for a career’ in their field. But this is deeply misleading. Certainly, courses can help you ‘prepare’ for a career, but there are clear advantages to accredited courses. Students need to be made aware of this and need to be given explicit advice when they are searching for potential courses” the AM added.

Only accredited courses are nationally recognised and, as such, have qualifications that are issued by a registered training organisation. The right professional qualifications and registrations can help boost graduates’ careers. It makes them more desirable to employers, increases their chances of being offered a higher salary bracket, and can help them to get a foot in the door in the first place

“It’s alarming that young people may not be given the full information about potential courses, whether this be from teaching staff, career advisors or universities themselves. I have asked the Welsh Education Secretary to make it clear to all students, from the outset, what they will get at the end of their course; as well as how good the course is, and whether it will be recognised upon completion by professional bodies” Lee Waters said.

Llanelli Online contacted Trinity St David’s University. In a statement the University responded:

“The University does not mislead its students and provides accurate information about its courses in its published materials. In addition to the academic qualification, details are included of any professional qualifications that students will also achieve by successfully completing the course.

“This is not “deception by omission” as accurate information is included in all of the University’s published materials. It is however, misleading to suggest that all university programmes should have professional accreditation as it does not demonstrate a clear understanding of the qualifications framework within the University sector in the UK. The role of universities is to provide academic degree qualifications; the achievement of professional accreditation is additional to those qualifications.

“The University of Wales Trinity Saint David is a Royal Chartered University and is therefore a recognised degree-awarding body. In its most recent review the UK Government’s Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) judged that UWTSD’s academic standards, the quality of student learning opportunities, enhancement of learning opportunities, as well as the quality of the information about leaning opportunities “meet UK expectations” – the highest endorsement available.

“For the course in question, relevant information about professional accreditation is noted in the Career Opportunities section on the website.”

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