Now, A Genuine Nightmare

The Daily Telegraph has the sequel to the story about the grad student who tried to bluff his way through economics lectures in Bejing. If that was bad, the aftermath may be worse as it involves lawyers.

Student lecturer may be sued: An Oxford engineering student who posed as an expert in global finance to deliver lectures to business leaders in China, was told yesterday that he could be sued.

Faced with the bad publicity, the lecture hosts are now scrambling to say they knew he was a fake all along, and they're going to get him for it.

Although Mr Richardson, who is studying at St Peter's College, was the toast of his friends after returning to Britain, the academic institution that sent him to China was less than amused.

Dr Julian Ng, of the private Warnborough University in Canterbury, said: “Mr Richardson may think he has been very clever but there are serious ramifications. Several dozen people from the business world took time out from their busy schedules to fly to Beijing to attend the lectures.

“Being Chinese, they were far too polite to say anything to Mr Richardson but it was soon obvious to them that they were being addressed by someone who didn't know what he was talking about.

“A lot of time and money has been wasted and we are having to re-run the lectures.

“We are in contact with counsel and it may well be that we will sue Mr Richardson for the return of the money he has taken from us.” However, Mr Richardson was unrepentant. He said: “I know about as much about the law as I do about finance, which is not very much, but I don't think they stand a chance.”

Dr Ng said he had lined up an academic to deliver the lectures to the businessmen and women studying for a PhD but he pulled out over fears of contracting bird flu. In haste he contacted a colleague who suggested Mr Richardson.

“I was under the impression that Mr Richardson was a doctoral student in finance,” he said.

“I had no idea he was studying engineering. This only became apparent when his CV arrived after he had flown to China.”

It does seem that the hosts have the makings of a breach of contract case, as Mr. Richardson didn't in fact deliver all the lectures. On the other hand, if they represented to him that it was going to be fewer lectures, or the same one a few times, he might have a counter-claim or at least a defence.

Myself, I hope the hosts are blowing smoke. I doubt the claim would be worth pursing, either for the limited damages (although you get costs in the UK so smaller claims are viable), or for the certainty of even more bad publicity.

Then again, would Mr. Richardson go pro se? That might be something to see.

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19 Responses to Now, A Genuine Nightmare

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  5. Ismo Kuhanen says:

    I don’t think Mr Richadson has anything to fear from Warnborough. The last thing Warnborough would want is any exposure created by a court case. This episode is a typical of Warnborough con amongst many others.

    Although they have an impressive list of ‘senior faculty members’ on their website, Warnborough does not employ any full time academics but have to use part-time lecturers whose qualifications or backgrounds are not checked when they are asked to supply unsusspecting visiting lecturers to their overseas learning centres.

    In fact, Warnborough is not a University but an Irish registered limited company. Its degrees are not recognised anywhere in the world although Julian Ng has decided himself a doctor. Whilst being banned in Australia they have signed up with an Australian accreditation agency which in itself looks rather suspect and certainly do not specialise in the accreditation of higher education insitutions. This company’s predecessor, Warnborough College, was an independent British further education establishment until they disappeared in 1995 after cheating a group of American students into believing that they were coming to study at Oxford University. The owner Brenden Tempest-Mogg emerged as a University President along with Mr Julian Ng two years later in London.

    Whilst Mr Richardson has no need to worry, his PhD students who will receive a Warnborough doctorate will have lots of concerns along with hundereds of others in all countries Warnborough is present and offer their degrees. That unfortunately includes the UK and some EU countries.

    I’ll would be pleased to suppply further details on this organisation and its operations to anybody interested and concerned about Warnborough’s status.

  6. MY Tsai says:

    I studied the Warnborough MBA course in China two years ago. The professors sent by WU were very good. I enjoyed the classes and meeting with the professors who came from England, Norway, USA and Australia. They also had top Chinese professors from Beijing university and Tsinghua university.

    The Chinese news forums have a lot of talk about this matter. Some of the students from Beijing class say that the Matthew Richardson pretended he was professor from Oxford. He was a gay and brought his boyfriend with him. According to students he was very arrogant even when he did not know what he was teaching. Many students knew he was pretending but too polite to mention.

    I also remember Ismo Kuhanen from an old WU brochure. He was Director of Business Faculty but I hear he got fired.

    Please add a .cn after .com in my email address.

  7. Mike Bray says:

    Some of the papers said Richardson was trying to get publicity for his election campaign as president of the Oxford Union. He lost quite badly. Mike.

  8. Ismo Kuhanen says:

    MY Tsai’s comments above confirm my ealier points. I did work for Warnborough on a self-employed capacity for about 12 months and allowed them to use my name in their brochure. My main duties were programme and courseware authoring but never actually based at their offices. These included MBA and BBA which according to WU were supposed to get accredited/validated by a genuine British University. Mr Richadson I had never heard of prior to his 15 mins. of fame.

    Following my too many questions about the accreditation and other dubious issues they did indeed fire me but continued using my incompleted work leaving the students with worthless degrees and me without payment. In my case, it wasn’t the first time they forget to pay their creditors, as indicated in Oxford University Gazette 7.11.96 after this scam they re-emerged under the University title in 1997.

    I declined their offer of re-employment as a “Senior Consultant”.

    It is a pitty about the students most of whom falling for Warnborough and other similar scams and end up losing a lot more than their money.

  9. Me says:

    BBC Radio 5 Live seemed quite sceptical about the anecdote, as lots of people had phoned them up saying he was doing it to gain mileage as he was running for President of Oxford Union. Funny that the person responsible for all the press and publicity, [****** *****], was running for Secretary in Richardson’s campaign team…

    Note added 6/21/05 by Michael: At the request of the person named in this comment I’ve removed the name that was where the ***s are above. S/he claims “the accusation is false” (whether that of candiditure or that of PR, I’m unsure). I have no reason to believe otherwise. And the post was anonymous, so there’s no one to write to in search of confirmation.

  10. Anonymous says:

    seriously, he went. the plane tickets are pictured on his website.

  11. Ismo Kuhanen says:

    The British Government is finally catching up with Warnborough University and Warnborough College scams. Warnborough has been ordered to drop the university title from their name.

    More on Warnborough and its associates’ past and present scandals on

  12. Jayne Bell says:

    I have found a program for distance learning at Warnborough that I like very much. Does anyone have specifics about their accredidation? I wanted to pursue a PhD. in Cultural Art History. My goal is to teach at the college level after I retire from my current, public school position.

    Facts and web-sites that I can look up would be greatly appreciated.


  13. Chris says:

    I’ve served on faculty search committees, and you probably won’t want to go with a distance learning Ph.D. from anywhere (let alone Warnborough, which appears tainted). Compared to applications from candidates with traditional Ph.D. programs, the distance learning ones appeared at a serious disadvantage–e.g., teaching and research productivity, professional socialization, low prestige of the Ph.D. granting institution, no one who could comment on their potential. I wouldn’t recommend that route, unless you intend to join the ranks of the adjuncts, who are–to the universities–cheap warm bodies to teach the classes the regular faculty are unable or unwilling to cover. Don’t do it!

  14. noble says:

    I work in administration for a UK university and we have accepted students from Warnborough. They had very good reports from their tutors. Colleagues at Oxford who tutored Warnborough students spoke highly of the institution and their standards.


  15. Chris says:

    I should’ve qualified my comments to US universities–I can’t speak for UK universities, whose purposes and circumstances are somewhat different. The only thing I know is that the pay isn’t as good in the UK, at least for faculty of comparable rank and experience! But the food is getting better, I understand…

  16. eric says:

    Warnborough University has now been recognised by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) and accredited to IS09001:2000 Quality Management Certification.

  17. For all the criticism regarding Warnborough University, I would like to advise that I took some 60% of my doctoral program at a U. S., fullly accredited university, was accpted at another here with full transfer credit. Upon deciding it most interesting to study abroad, I applied for, and was also accepted at Warnborough. Please be advised that I consider the post graduate program to be excellent and I enjoyed well advised guidance from the registrar through some personal mentoring by Vice President, Dr. Julian Ng. Aid in presentation and format of my presentations could not have been better and I am pleased to have completed my studies there. I further ask that you “doubters” visit the following web site for validation of Warnborough Accrediation:
    Go Warnborough – you, and I, have succeeded in spite of the adverse comment on this site!

  18. Dr. Eric Moss says:

    Many top universities have IS09001:2000 including Monash University and the University of Southern Queensland in Australia, University of Wolverhampton in the UK, and there are several in Europe and Asia. It is becoming a new trend to acquire this international accreditation as universities become more global. Warnborough has become the first global university to acquire this status.



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