College shut down for low standards

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 June, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 June, 1996, 12:00am

A UNIVERSITY that received millions of dollars in fees from Hong Kong students has been shut by the Californian Government for its poor standards.

After a long-running court battle, Los Angeles County-based Kensington University, which has enrolled hundreds of local students since 1992, has closed and transferred its students to a sister college in Hawaii.

Its 80 students are still attending evening classes at Kensington's offices in Sheung Wan, and university chiefs say they have signed over to Kensington International University in Hawaii.

President of both universities Dr Clive Grafton said only one Hong Kong student had asked to be reimbursed. The rest had agreed to switch to the Hawaiian university.

Kensington University failed a 1994 state review - the first of its kind - for routinely accepting below-par student work, being short-staffed and granting overblown credits.

Authorities said its certificates were a 'fraud on the public' and had 'little or no academic value'.

The Sunday Morning Post revealed last month that the university was recruiting students for courses starting this summer despite the threat of closure. Last year 81 local students graduated, having paid a total of $4 million in fees.

Neither Kensington University nor Kensington International University are accredited in the United States.

Dr Grafton said both bodies would keep seeking accreditation but admitted Kensington International University had no campus yet and merely operated from an office in Honolulu.

Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation member John Petersen told the Post several private colleges which had been closed or threatened with closure in the US had set up in Hawaii, where there was no licensing authority governing unaccredited universities.

Dr Grafton said last night he understood letters explaining the closure threat had gone to students through local director Teresa Li Suk-fun. Mr Grafton met students recently but said he was disappointed that many seemed unaware of the court action.

'I was very open with them and we agreed Kensington International University and accreditation was the way forward,' he said. 'Only one student asked to be reimbursed and has been, fully.' Dr Grafton said he had ordered all students to be enrolled in Kensington International University, instead of the now-defunct Kensington University.

But a Post reporter who visited the Sheung Wan office this week was assured she could enrol with Kensington University for a business course starting next month. The university was based in California and enjoyed a good reputation there, staff said.

Local director Ms Li was on a business trip to the US and unavailable for comment last night.