Ministers should have done more to stop a failed online university scheme wasting £50million of taxpayers’ money, the Government admitted yesterday.
The so-called UK e-University plan attracted only 900 students, costing an average £44,000 each. It folded last year, just six months after it opened.
The project was condemned as a ‘disgraceful waste of public money’ by the Commons education select committee earlier this year.
The MP’s said ministers should have taken account of the failure to attract private funding.
They also condemned as ‘wholly unacceptable and morally indefensible’ a decision to award the scheme’s chief executive a £45,000 bonus on top of his salary of £180,000.
The Government’s response to the damning verdict was published yesterday. The Department for Education acknowledged it could have done more to save the university, which aimed to offer degree courses over the Net. It admitted that in 2002 it became clear that private funding to match the state funding would not be forthcoming.
The response said: ‘With hindsight we can now see that the UK e-University structures should then have been reviewed more thoroughly.
‘Such a review might also have raised questions about the issues of remuneration and the bonus scheme.’
But the DfE said the blame should be shared by the department and those running the scheme.
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