Prospects: University challenged

by Kevin Reed

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17 Jan 2008

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university challengedOutspoken against the merger, and against many things the ICAEW has done over the past ten years or more, Jeff Wooller this week faces the critics himself.

The vocal critic of the Institute and the founder of the anti-merger Ginger Group stands accused of heading a bogus university handing out worthless degrees.

what’s happened...

Wooller is the honorary chancellor of the Irish International University, an institution that a BBC London investigation alleges is bogus, luring international students to the UK to do so-called degrees unaccredited by the relevant bodies. Even Wooller himself admitted on camera that it was ‘dodgy’.

Wooller, who goes by the moniker ‘Baron Knowth’ on the university’s website, told Accountancy Age that he had flagged up issues with the university’s governance over a period of several years and had threatened to resign unless it made a number of changes.

He wanted the university to stop referring to a non-existent campus in Dublin and refrain from saying it was accredited by an external body called the Quality Assurance Commission, which was owned by the university’s boss.

what will happen...

Wooller has shown no signs of quitting the university following the exposé, in fact quite the opposite. He said that the university has made the changes required for him to remain in his role.

The Irish authorities have tried to stop the IIU using the term university in the country.

Wooller, who is based in Monaco, has had plenty of run-ins with his institute, the ICAEW. He has criticised its various merger drives, constitutional issues and concerns over its exams. He has also been reprimanded by the ICAEW in the past. He was fined £1,000 in 1995 after being convicted in a magistrate’s court of breaching rules about offering unrecognised degrees.

The institute has already faced calls through comments on our website and in this week’s letters page for his behaviour to be investigated again.

The Jeff Wooller College, which has no ties to its former owner and provides qualifications towards ACCA and CIMA, is also looking at a re-brand following the press Wooller has received, its principal told Accountancy Age.

Wooller and his colleagues have been successful in warding off mergers of the institutes for many years. Wooller will be hoping he can be similarly successful in fighting off the allegations surrounding him now.

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