Fake-degree school closes

by
July 15, 2009
Fake-degree school closes <!–10 min–>

MOE revokes Brookes’ registration; students turn up to find door closed, no staff around

By Jermyn Chow
Students who turned up at Brookes’ premises in Beach Road on Tuesday found an MOE closure notice stuck to the door. — ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

BROOKES Business School, which peddled fake degrees and diplomas to hundreds of students, has been ordered to shut down.

The private school handed out bogus qualifications from brand-name institutions in Australia and Britain, including the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), in a practice which was exposed last month by The Straits Times. The Education Ministry (MOE) said on Tuesday it had revoked the school’s registration for contravening the Education Act.

The 400 students enrolled at the school – half of them foreigners – had little warning of the impending action. Many turned up at Brookes’ premises in Beach Road on Tuesday morning to find the door closed and an MOE closure notice stuck to it.

Some had been telephoned earlier by a staff member of the school and told that classes would be cancelled for the week, resuming in about a fortnight.

One of them, who gave his name as Thomas, 21, said the caller neither identified herself nor gave a reason for the cancellation. ‘It was so strange, so I thought: better to come down and get answers,’ said the Chinese national, who is studying for a diploma in tourism and hospitality.

He failed to find any answers though, since staff and lecturers were nowhere to be seen. Neither was the man at the centre of the fiasco, the school’s registered owner, Mr Benny Yap Chee Mun, 39.

Students said the last time they saw him was just after news broke of the scam in mid-June, when he called a meeting and assured them that the school’s degrees were bona fide, and that it would not close down. He had told The Straits Times that he had been duped by a Vietnamese man, who sold him a ‘franchise’ to offer RMIT degrees in 2007.

On Tuesday, however, an MOE spokesman said there was ‘sufficient evidence’ to prove Mr Yap ‘is not a fit and proper person to continue to operate the school’. Calls to the school and Mr Yap went unanswered.

Students have been told by MOE to approach the Association of Private Schools and Colleges (APSC), which represents some 40 private schools here, to help with transfers to other schools.

Dr Andrew Chua, its president, said that four receiving schools had been identified. He advised students to seek help at its secretariat at 9, Ah Hood Road, which will be open from 9am to 5pm from Wednesday till Friday. Students seeking fee refunds, which ranged from $9,000 to $12,000 for a one-year specialist diploma, should approach the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) for advice, said the ministry.

http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/mb/message.asp?webtag=sunkopitiam&msg=33284.1

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