Fraud in Britain’s student loan system has been uncovered by a ten-month long BBC Panorama investigation in one of England’s biggest private colleges.
Greenwich School of Management (GSM London), whose degrees are awarded by Plymouth University, receives approximately £66m each year in taxpayer-backed maintenance and tuition fee loans.
Students that attend are mostly enrolled by the college itself; but around a quarter of the intake is recruited by freelance agents.
Footage shows Charles Logan, who receives £600 for every student he admits, sign on an undercover student with a full-time job onto a three-year honours course in business management.
Mr Logan arranged the undercover student to have their assignments written for them.
The plagiarised work was awarded good marks by GSM London, going undetected by monitoring. “There’s a guy who we see here who has never been to a class, 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,” Mr Logan said on camera. GSM London said they have launched an independent review of their admissions and assessment practices, terminating their contract with Mr Logan and his company.
There are 112 private colleges (or alternative providers) in England, receiving a total of £400m through the student loan system.
Following the Higher Education and Research Act, the government has expanded private providers in the university sector to allow higher education to be accessible to more.
Meg Hillier, chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, said that the government has yet to put into place an effective regulatory system.
“It’s got to crack down on what’s happened now, really investigate it,” Ms Hillier said. “But it also has got to have a system that stops these chancers piling in and making money from the taxpayer.”
The Panorama documentary, ‘Student Loan Scandal’, is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.