Brookes Business School
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mdm Halimah Yacob, MP for Jurong GRC
(a) What steps have been taken to stop Brookes Business School from continuing with peddling fake degrees after the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology reported to the Ministry in 2007 about them?; and (b) What was done to alert the public so as to contain the damage?
1Let me first set the context before addressing the Member’s specific questions. The private education landscape in Singapore has evolved rapidly in recent years. The number of private schools registered with the Ministry of Education has grown exponentially. It doubled in the ten years between 1987 and 1997, from 150 to 305. It then quadrupled in the next ten years between 1997 and 2007, from 305 to 1,200 private schools. Over the years, Government had adopted a light touch approach in regulating this industry, which included among other measures, basic registration and Casetrust accreditation for education providers.
2However, with the rapid growth in the number of private schools and the wide range in standards, this “light touch” approach is no longer adequate. MOE will be tabling the Private Education Bill for Parliament’s approval later this year to strengthen our regulatory powers to deal with errant private education institutions, as well as to work with industry to raise standards. The Council of Private Education (CPE), which will be established under the Act, will bring together individuals with expertise in education, quality assurance and business, as well as representatives from government agencies. The CPE will better regulate the private education industry, guide its development and ensure Singapore’s status as an education hub of quality and reliability.
3One key thrust of the CPE’s efforts will be to raise consumer awareness through more extensive public education. This includes the establishment of a Student Information Centre to provide and draw consumers’ attention to relevant information such as the list of external degree programmes registered with MOE. Degrees offered by Brookes BS were not on this list. This list has been publicly available since 2002 and put out on MOE’s website even prior to the RMIT’s complaint against Brookes Business School in 2007. Members of the public are advised to check degrees offered by private education providers with this list. If the Private Education Bill is passed, the CPE will require education providers to specifically inform prospective students if degrees offered by them are on the list.
4On the Member’s specific questions, RMIT had written to MOE in April 2007 to report that the Brookes Business School was falsely associating itself with RMIT on its website and offering RMIT’s external degree programmes. In the same letter, RMIT had also informed MOE that it had obtained an undertaking from Brookes Business School to remove all references to RMIT under its programmes and collaterals, to notify affected students, and to refrain from any such activities in the future. RMIT had indicated that it would initiate legal proceedings against Brookes Business School if the undertaking was not honoured.
5Subsequently in June 2007, MOE issued a warning to Brookes Business School for carrying misleading information on its website and other publicity materials. RMIT was kept informed and as MOE did not receive further indication from RMIT, considered the matter to be resolved through private action between the parties concerned. We also understand that no legal proceedings have been initiated by RMIT against Brookes Business School over the past two years.
6Let me assure the Member that MOE will take appropriate actions against errant private education providers if there is a legal basis to do so under the current Education Act. In June 2009, MOE and Police received reports by the students against Brookes Business School. The staff of the school is assisting Police in their investigations. In parallel, MOE has also conducted its investigations into Brookes Business School for probable contraventions under the Education Act. MOE has since cancelled the registration of Brookes Business School, on the basis that the supervisor is not a ‘fit and proper’ person to continue to operate the school. Another school operated by the same supervisor has also been closed for the same reason. MOE is currently helping to facilitate the transfer of students to other private education institutions, where possible.
7MOE would like to advise students to exercise due diligence when selecting courses and private education institutions. Students should check the MOE website to ensure that the external degree programmes had been registered prior to signing up. We also encourage students to check with the foreign universities to ensure that as students studying at offshore centres, they would be accorded equivalent standing as students studying at the universities’ home campuses.