A senior Irish education official has reiterated that the Irish International University—which operates its “Asian campus” in Phnom Penh—is not a recognized university in Ireland, and that the Irish government does not recognize its degrees.
Carmel Kelly, qualifications recognition coordinator for the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, wrote in a Monday e-mail that educational awards in Ireland can only be issued by its seven universities, the Dublin Institute of Technology, or the Higher Education and Training Awards Council, which oversees private colleges.
“The Irish International University is not one of our seven recognized universities, the DIT, nor are its awards made by HETAC,” Kelly wrote.
“Therefore it is not a recognized institution in Ireland, nor are its awards nationally recognized in this country. Hence, we do not promote the recognition of the Irish International University or its awards abroad,” she wrote.
IIU is in partnership with Cambodia’s biggest private educational institute, Build Bright University, where it plans to award doctorate degrees this year.
Kelly’s comments follow an official statement from IIU’s Executive President H Sandhu issued Jan 3, in which he reiterated that his university is permitted to issue educational awards, and shrugged off criticism from the Irish government.
“The Minister for Education and Science of Ireland and the Irish Embassy have no authority to make official comments on organizations that are privately funded that offer non-statutory awards, or indeed comment on the quality of higher education programs offered by them,” Sandhu said in the statement.
The Irish Embassy in Malaysia said in a December e-mail that IIU is not a university in Ireland and has no campus there. It also stated that the 1997 Irish Universities Act forbids organizations like IIU from calling themselves universities.
In his statement, Sandhu gave his address as being in Dublin, though the document was mailed from Malaysia.
Sandhu said IIU is established as a privately funded education institute in Ireland, and has been “officially incorporated and registered as a non-statutory educational awarding body in Ireland.”
“The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland acknowledges that there are non-statutory awarding bodies which make awards in Ireland and which do not have ‘formal’ recognition of the Irish State,” Sandhu wrote. The authority also acknowledges that such bodies have been operating for many years, he added.
Cambodia’s Ministry of Education is currently investigating IIU’s credentials, according to Chan Roath, director of the ministry’s department of scientific research.
Chan Roath said Tuesday that he has written to the British Embassy for information on IIU, though the embassy has not yet responded.
IIU claims to be accredited in the UK, but is not on the British government’s official list of recognized universities.
A British Embassy official declined immediate comment.