THE University of East London (UEL) has ordered an investigation into its international activities after the closure of its Cyprus campus that recruited just 17 students in its first six months.
According to the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine, UEL has asked Sir David Melville, former vice-chancellor of Middlesex and Kent universities and current chairman of Pearson Education, to carry out the investigation.
News that the UEL was closing its Cyprus campus emerged in April but Cyprus Mail sources said that operations would not cease until March of next year.
Officials in Cyprus have not been made aware of the reasons for the campus’ closure with mystery shrouding the departures of three of UEL’s most senior figures within a month last year.
The THE reported that Patrick McGhee, the vice-chancellor, left on health grounds, while the institution’s pro vice-chancellor international and director of finance both resigned.
The THE reported minutes from a governors’ meeting in May 2012 showed concerns about the Cyprus project in its development stage, with some governors warning that “completion of the necessary due diligence had not been demonstrated”.
During development, governors were told that the Cyprus campus would require potential funding from UEL of up to €1.5 million (£1.28 million), the THE reported.
Minutes from a governors’ meeting in May 2013 showed the governors received “a confidential oral report from Sir David Melville summarising his investigation into the university’s recent international activities and the contents of his draft report on the matter”.
A UEL spokeswoman told the THE: “The report is not available externally in order to protect our university’s commercial interests. In line with good practice, we appointed an external consultant to carry out a review. As is customary with all reports, we will be learning from any recommendations the report makes.”
John Joughin was appointed UEL vice-chancellor after the departure of Professor McGhee.
Despite the turmoil, UEL have ensured the students who will not be able to continue studying at the university are compensated for any fees they have paid. Sources also revealed that the UEL went ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty by offering the students the opportunity to continue studying in London or at another university in Cyprus and that the university would cover certain costs.
Sunday Mail sources claimed that students who had enrolled are happy with the solutions that have been arranged by UEL although the officials in Cyprus who will be left unemployed come March 2014 remain in the dark over the reasons for the campus’ closure.
UEL opened its new campus on June 20 last year and had hoped to offer high quality British degree programmes.