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RMIT University fears Singapore scam -

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RMIT University fears Singapore scam

The World Today - Thursday, 18 June , 2009 12:26:00

Reporter: Samantha Donovan

PETER CAVE: Melbourne's RMIT University is considering a legal action against a Singaporean college
which has apparently been using its name on fake degrees. The problem first came to light in 2007
and RMIT reported the scam to Singaporean authorities.

But the problem has resurfaced and RMIT is again asking the police and education department in
Singapore to act.

Samantha Donovan reports.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: RMIT University thinks dozens of students may have fallen victim to an apparent
scam at the Brookes Business School in Singapore. Those students have allegedly paid as much as
$AU16,000 to graduate with what they thought was an RMIT degree.

The Brookes Business School's website says it offers "high quality academic programs in partnership
with established universities from the US, UK and Australia". But RMIT says it's never been one of
the partner institutions.

Dr Madeleine Reeve RMIT's pro vice-chancellor, international and development says the problems with
the Singaporean College have come in two phases.

MADELEINE REEVE: We were first alerted to the issue of Brookes misrepresenting RMIT in April 2007
and at that time took immediate action legally and in advising the authorities that they were
misrepresenting us on their website.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: What did you do at that time?

MADELEINE REEVE: We actually informed the police in Singapore. We actually wrote to the Ministry of
Education and also the case trust secretariat that actually oversights the quality assurance of
higher education in Singapore.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: RMIT says it demanded and obtained a written undertaking from Brookes in which
the school agreed to remove all references to RMIT on its website and documentation. Brookes was
also required to notify all students enrolled or accepted into programs said to be associated with
RMIT that the university had no association whatsoever with Brookes.

Dr Reeve says it's clear now that those measures didn't work.

MADELEINE REEVE: The issue that has now recently come to light is that in fact Brookes did breach
the legal undertakings that were put in place and delivered, continued to deliver and misrepresent
RMIT through their institute in Singapore and the minute we became aware of that, we have not again
engaged with the relevant authorities in Singapore and are exploring legal action against Brookes.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The World Today's calls to the Brookes Business School weren't answered. But
newspapers report that the school claims it was sold a franchise to run RMIT programs two years ago
by a man claiming to be an employee of RMIT's Vietnam campus. And the school didn't realise that
the degrees weren't valid.

But Dr Madeleine Reeve says no such employee of the Vietnam campus exists.

MADELEINE REEVE: No man of that name mentioned being employed at RMIT Vietnam.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: What sort of checking into that did RMIT do?

MADELEINE REEVE: We obviously looked through our staffing lists and validated our staff members.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Do you believe then that someone actually has taken that action and pretended to
be from RMIT or do you think it is more likely that that is a story Brookes is trying to put
across?

MADELEINE REEVE: I really don't know if anybody would have done that or not. I do find it a very
strange situation.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Is the university fearful that this may have some long-term and perhaps lasting
damage to its reputation?

MADELEINE REEVE: No, not all. I think we are very well known university with an excellent
reputation and particularly an excellent reputation with our programs in Singapore and we remain
strongly committed to international education so I don't believe so.

PETER CAVE: Dr Madeleine Reeve from the RMIT University in Melbourne ending Samantha Donovan's
report.