Private school loses EduTrust mark

SINGAPORE - AEC college, which admitted students into an MBA course even before they passed an English proficiency test, has been banned from taking in foreign students for six months.

The Council for Private Education (CPE), which took away the private school's EduTrust quality mark on Tuesday, said it had failed to maintain standards.

Without its EduTrust mark, which has been suspended for six months, the school in Bukit Merah will not be able to recruit more foreign students.

It currently has 800 students, most of whom are foreigners.

The Straits Times broke the story on AEC last year when 34 foreign students, who were midway through their MBA programme, were told that they had failed a compulsory English test - a year after taking it.

A pass grade was a requirement for entry into the 18-month Master of Business Administration course offered by Britain's University of Wales, Newport.

The students, mostly degree holders in their 20s, assumed that they had passed as they were made to pay thousands of dollars in fees before starting the course.

When asked about the English test last year, the college told The Straits Times that its overseas recruitment agents may not have fully explained the requirements. It added that it allows those who have not yet received their English results to start the MBA programme.

However, the CPE said that private institutions and their overseas academic partners are responsible for making sure that students meet entry requirements for programmes offered.

But this is not the only issue that has hit AEC. These 34 students are part of a larger group of more than 100 who complained late last year about being stranded in Singapore. At the time, they had still not been given the results of eight modules, which they had to pass before they could submit their dissertations to complete their course.

When asked about the suspension, the CPE said it conducted an interim assessment of the school last November. Lapses were found in the way students were selected and admitted. There were also lapses in the monitoring of students and academic processes, including the way examinations were conducted.

The school was issued a warning and assessed again in May, when it was found that the lapses had not been fixed.

A spokesman for the CPE, a government agency which oversees private education here, said it had "uncovered lapses in all EduTrust criteria".

AEC Wednesday said it will conduct a thorough review of its processes to ensure that the school complies with all EduTrust requirements.

It said it will "spare no effort" to seek reinstatement to the EduTrust scheme within the shortest possible time.

It added that it was still registered with the CPE and will continue to operate and fulfil all its obligations to its students. Meanwhile, it will recruit only local students into its courses.

A parent of an Indian student who is enrolled in AEC College said he is looking into getting his son transferred to another private school.

The businessman, who declined to be named, said: "I am disappointed. When news broke last year, students were told that all problems would be fixed. Eight months later, the problems are still there."


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