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September 22, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Online University with New Zealand address raises government hackles

The government has launched an investigation into an online university that previously claimed to have a New Zealand administrative centre, with Minister of Tertiary Education Pete Hodgson describing the enquiry as “a matter of urgency.”

Prescott University, whose website is registered in the United Kingdom, purports to offer distance learning degrees from bachelor to doctorate level.

According to the University’s website, “[all] official diplomas and transcripts must be issued directly from our New Zealand admin office, arriving to you, with a NZ post mark.” The website initially provided a Motueka post box and New Zealand cellphone number as the office’s contact details.

However, at the time of writing, the New Zealand contact details on the website have since been removed, with a British address which belongs to a mail forwarding service now provided as its “Worldwide Headquarters,” and an Indian address as a regional headquarters.

The University claims to be “fully accredited by the United Collegiate College Association,” an organisation with similar website design to Prescott University, and which states that membership is open to “any individual, student, or learning institution interested in advancing education in the international community [and] networking with fellow colleges and universities throughout the world.”

Hodgson noted that the University was unaccredited in New Zealand, and has not been approved as a university in New Zealand.

Under the Education Act 1989, it is an offence to use the term ‘university’ or make claims to grant degrees without relevant approval.

Hodgson ordered an investigation into the University’s dealings in New Zealand as “a matter of urgency,” citing the Government’s concerns about maintaining “New Zealand’s international reputation as a high quality education destination.”

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