Jeff Wooller, the dissident member of the ICAEW who campaigned against its merger with other institutes, has been stripped of his membership after acting as the vice chancellor of three organisations falsely claiming to provide university level education.
A statement from the ICAEW said: "Jeff Wooller was excluded from membership, with no re-application to be considered for a minimum of five years." He was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £19,533 in costs.
Wooller represented the Irish International University, the Irish University Business School and the International University Business School.
The complaint against him was that he relied upon his membership of the ICAEW to gain each position but should have been “aware” of the false claims and took no action to investigate or prevent them continuing.
The organisations each claimed to offer education equivalent to a British university when their qualifications were of “little or no intrinsic value”, the ICAEW complaint claimed.
In the case of the Irish International University, it was not accredited, contrary to claims on its website, nor was the description of its governance and structure accurate.
The ICAEW found that each organisation could have misled students or employers and that Wooller took no action in his official capacities to prevent it.
The ICAEW’s action addressed the complaint that Wooller’s behaviour was “likely to bring discredit on himself, the institute or the profession of accountancy".
The claims made the university the subject of a BBC investigation in which an interview with Wooller featured.
The case against me appears to be that I was involved with three universities, which issued unaccredited degrees. Globally, there are hundreds of such universities employing thousands of employees. I am not aware of anyone else being victimized in the same way as I have been by ICAEW.
The extreme ICAEW reaction has, in my view, been motivated by political reasons as forecast by Accountancy Age. I have been a thorn in the side of the ICAEW for many years. Even in the 1970s, I was shown as one of the black sheep of the accounting profession in a cartoon in Accountancy Magazine. This was because of my exposures of many acts of incompetence in the field of education.
The ICAEW Ginger Group that I set up was responsible for striking or helping to strike blows against the wishes of the ICAEW Council. We opposed countless attempts by the ICAEW Council to merge with anyone prepared to merge with it. We also won a famous vote against the ICAEW in favour of a reduction in the number of Council Members. In true democratic fashion, it has chosen to ignore the wishes of its members.
The present saga started with the BBC TV producing a sensationalist report on the activities of the Irish International University (IIU). Its report was neither true nor fair by a young journalist determined to hit the big time. She did not, in my view, uphold long-held traditions of honesty in BBC reporting. The headlines told of a multi-million pound university scam involving IIU which it said was neither a university nor Irish. A simple check of the records at Companies House in Ireland would have revealed that IIU was registered there as a university. Under Irish Common Law a university set up in Ireland is allowed to issue degrees.
The BBC maliciously showed a photograph of me taken with IIU Chief Executive Dr Hardeep Singh Sandhu, which was made to look as though it was taken at the last IIU Convocation held in Oxford. In fact, the photograph was taken 10 years ago in London.
The Higher Education Authorities (HEA) in Ireland were responsible for the BBC not realising that the IIU had a legal right to exist as a university and to issue degrees. There are still several universities registered in Ireland issuing degrees. The HEA has been unable to take legal actions because of the Common Law rights of the universities, but it has steadfastly refused to acknowledge this fact publicly.
The ICAEW claim is that the degrees of unaccredited universities do not offer intrinsic value. This could have applied in the UK with Irish International University (IIU) except that IIU never had a presence in the UK and it was unlikely that any UK person would have been affected.
With Irish University Business School (IUBS) we have had students in the UK but none of them were interested in intrinsic values. One is a senior FCCA who has done three higher-level degrees with us. He knew at the time that the degrees were unaccredited but he was impressed by the quality of the tuition provided. He is committed to our cause and attends our convocations.
Also in the UK, is a senior lecturer who maintains that the degree he got through IUBS was the positive turning point in his life. He went on to do a PhD at Plymouth University, which was aware of his background with IUBS. He is now teaching at accredited and unaccredited universities.
If the unaccredited colleges are so unacceptable, why did a former President of the ACCA make an offer to purchase IUBS before it was accredited? Why did he attend convocations of the IIU and why did he give out the certificates at one of the convocation held by IIU and act as guest speaker at another?
Why did London, Imperial, Oxford and Cambridge Universities let IIU hold its convocations on its premises? Why did Cambridge University run joint courses with IIU?
Why did the Prime Minister of the UK always send a personal message to students attending the IIU convocations? Why did so many London mayors attend IIU functions including giving out degree certificates.
The Disciplinary Committee of the ICAEW was composed mainly of graduates from accredited universities the BBC journalist was from Oxford University. Such graduates can be assumed prejudiced against unaccredited universities.
Just to make sure that ICAEW got its man it chose to fabricate some additional evidence against him.
Posted by: Dr Jeff Wooller, 26 Jun 2010 | 00:00
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