Panorama claims student loan scandal involving ‘fraudulent’ Plymouth University degrees

BBC Panorama will tonight air a program unveiling what it says is a student loan scam involving a college which hands out Plymouth University degrees.

The Devon university has launched an internal investigation and the college has cut its ties with an agent implicated in the actions.

Panorama’s Student Loan Scandal , on BBC One tonight, reports that fraud is costing the taxpayer millions.

The BBC claims it has undercover footage that reveals how “shady education agents” are recruiting bogus students to private colleges to claim loans they should not have access too.

Agents supply fraudulent qualifications, offer to sell coursework and are able to “fake attendance”, the broadcaster says.


Plymouth University has launched an internal investigation after being the only British uni named in a report on BBC News on Sunday evening, reports plymouthherald .

The broadcaster claims it has uncovered evidence of abuse of the student loan system in one of the biggest private colleges in England, Greenwich School of Management.

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It has been reported that around £66million of taxpayer-backed cash goes through the institution each year – and its degrees are awarded by Plymouth University.

Greenwich School of Management – also known as GSM London – has an academic partnership with Plymouth University, which sees the city uni award its degrees.

The BBC says whistleblowers tipped it off about a “dodgy freelance agent”.

Undercover footage to be aired in full on Monday evening appears to show the agent signing up somebody with a full-time job to a degree in business management.

“There’s a guy who we see here who has never been to a class,” the agent is seen saying on camera. “Never done an assignment in his life but used the money to open two restaurants.

“And he graduated with honours with a law degree last year. Never went to classes.”

The BBC’s undercover student, they claim, barely attended classes and could not manage with the coursework – but received student loan payments and the college received the first part of their tuition fees.

The agent claimed to know somebody with “over 40 writers” who could fake coursework for a fee.

The undercover student passed their first term with good grades, signed off by Plymouth University, the BBC says.

Plymouth University told the BBC is had launched its own “full and independent investigation”.

It added that it had “longstanding and robust academic regulations and processes to prevent academic dishonesty and ensure the quality of its degrees.”

GSM London told the BBC in a statement: “If the allegations are true, [the agent’s] actions are totally unacceptable.

“GSM London has suspended its contract with him…and is conducting an urgent investigation, involving external experts.”

The agent’s lawyer’s told the BBC he “emphatically denies” acting fraudulently.

Plymouth University said in a statement: “The university has longstanding and robust academic regulations and processes to prevent academic dishonesty and to ensure the academic quality of its degrees.

“The university is the accrediting body of a number of degrees which are taught at GSM London and GSM London is responsible for the academic administration and processes for these.

“These include ensuring that only those students who meet clearly defined admissions criteria are recruited to courses and that there is robust and consistent attendance monitoring.

“This programme has raised a number of concerning allegations relating to GSM London and we have requested that GSM London carries out a thorough investigation into all matters raised.

“In addition, and given the significance of the allegations raised in this programme relating to GSM London, we are launching a full and independent investigation of our own which will be externally led.

The Panorama documentary will be shown on BBC One at 7.30pm on Monday, November 13.

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