Furious staff at a Welsh university have condemned the “complete waste of money” in opening a controversial campus on a holiday island, after revelations it is now to close following relentless pressure by The Eye.
The Mauritius campus of Aberystwyth University was built to accommodate 2,000 students, but just 106 enrolled in its second year.
We showed how the cost too of the venture has proved contentious.
One staff member at Aberystwyth told us: “Now we know the expensive folly of the Mauritius campus.
“But I bet they don’t apologise.”
A member of the Welsh Assembly, Simon Thomas AM, a former Aberystwyth student, said opening the campus was “not a wise move”.
The decision to open it was taken at a time when the university was facing other problems at its main headquarters in Ceredigion.
Among the issues was a severe financial crisis revealed by The Eye.
In May last year a former Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth condemned the move to open the Mauritius campus.
Prof Derec Llwyd Morgan, who ran the university from 1994 to 2004, said the figures showed it was a bad decision to go to a far-flung country.
“The venture is madness”, he said.
Yet officials had remained upbeat throughout
David Poyton, Dean of the Mauritius campus, said last year: “Lots of students want to study here for a UK degree”.
But the campus was opened as Aberystwyth faced huge financial problems because of falling rolls.
The former director of finance, Peter Curran, had said: “The financial implications of under-recruitment have never been so significant”.
Earlier this year we showed how the then ‘acting’ Vice-Chancellor John Grattan had also outlined the hugely-damaging effect of Brexit, when the university was seeking to attract students from overseas.
Professor Grattan said about 50 applicants pulled out the day after the Brexit vote.
“I won’t hide it from you that Brexit poses a challenge to the university,” he told students during a graduation ceremony.
The former Vice-Chancellor at Aberystwyth, April McMahon, had also hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
She finally left the summer of last year after The Eye disclosed she was considering her position.
Following our revelations Professor McMahon had been forced to work alongside the university President Emyr Jones-Parry, before she finally left, which caused huge disquiet among senior university staff.
We disclosed how during her disastrous five-year tenure, Aberystwyth had plummeted in The Guardian league table, which was widely-read by potential students, and fell sharply in the Complete University Guide(CUG).
In The Times and the Sunday Times guide it dropped 11 places to 93.
A damaging profile of the university at the time stated: “Aberystwyth has set itself the goal of becoming one of the top 30 universities in the UK and the top 250 in the world by 2017.
“It is a tall order where The Times and The Sunday Times league table is concerned, with the university presently in danger of falling out of our top 100, dropping 11 places this year after last year’s 35-place fall.”
Yet now it appears the Aberystwyth University campus on Mauritius has also fallen.
It seems a shame they didn’t realise that this would happen…