In 2005, I sought to consolidate the various strands of my educational work by forming a private limited company in the UK called Marquess Educational Consultants, Ltd. This was incorporated in England and Wales on 13 July 2005 with company registration number 05507264. I was the sole director of the company.
The first work that the company undertook was educational consultancy with respect to the equivalency of international credentials I had begun to work remotely online as a senior consultant and expert on international credentials for several foreign credential evaluation agencies in the United States, where we served clients in the fields of educational admissions, employment and immigration. Through Marquess Educational Consultants, Ltd., I provided several hundred expert opinions on credentials and their equivalencies, advised extensively on the handling of complex immigration matters involving credentials, and also undertook research in this area leading to industry publications. Working in a small team, I also had responsibility for the online training and mentoring of staff who were new to the area of foreign credential evaluation.
In addition to this, the company undertook several projects concerned with the provision of distance and blended education. Marquess College, London (MCL), was established as a division of the company and focused upon offering qualifications based on the mentored assessment of experiential learning through portfolio, coursework and dissertation methods. It defined its mission as “to be a leading resource for the development of professional competencies worldwide and to serve those who will be the leaders of tomorrow.” Before long it had attracted an excellent and diverse faculty, a number of whom who were experienced in alternative and nontraditional education and advocates for its merits.
MCL was founded with the awareness that today’s professionals seek an educational solution that is flexible, responsive and that embodies the concepts of modern professional life. The MCL learning solution is designed to add value, and to empower decision-makers so that their leadership is informed by an international outlook. Programs are offered both on campus, and through distance learning, with the latter route requiring no residency at any time. The concept of mentorship is key throughout.
Our programs have been designed with key leadership objectives in mind, with input from both educators and practitioners. As a participant, you will benefit from an advanced and forward-looking approach to education, and prepare to meet the challenges of twenty-first century professional life. The programs are strongly practical and vocational in nature. They apply a professional model to education, not an academic model to professional life.
Following the practice of other comparable career institutes and similar schools, we have routes to our awards both for those who hold existing formal post-secondary qualifications, and for those who do not, but can show us that their experience and background means they are likely to succeed on the program.
MCL awards stand in a long tradition of self-directed independent education. Although we impose no philosophy on the candidate, the ideas of educationalists such as Steiner, Montessori and particularly Karl Popper have influenced the programs and structure of the College. The emphasis is on empowering the adult as an active learner under mentorship rather than a passive learner under instruction.” (Marquess College, London, website)
In order to offer programmes on campus, MCL entered into a partnership with St George’s College, London, which had campus premises in Marylebone, whereby St George’s became an accredited campus centre for MCL programs. The academic staff of St George’s College liaised closely with MCL management with all programmes subject to external examination as an integral feature.
Distance and blended learning programmes were designed in particular so that they could be integrated into the professional workplace. The programmes could be based entirely around a particular company, with projects based on working life and emphasis on analytical, interpersonal and integrative competencies. Focus was possible on both the individual and the individual as part of a team. The structure of the programme drew on best practice in progressive institutions in Britain, Europe and the USA to create a holistic – yet easily understood – route to the assessment of professional competencies in practical terms. The business focus led to the development of a sister organization to MCL, the London Academy of Professional Management, which was designed as a professional organization that offered an assessed membership based on prior experience and learning.
Marquess College, London, was registered on the Department for Education and Skills Register of Learning Providers with provider number 10009520. In order to provide quality assurance for its distance learning programmes, Marquess College, London, became an associate member of the British Learning Association, which meant that it was bound by the BLA’s Code of Conduct for the provision of educational programmes to which students could have recourse if necessary.
Marquess Educational Consultants, Ltd., also sought and obtained certification of its quality assurance systems following assessment by the independent standardizing body International Charter, with respect to their standard IC9200 for organizations.
The programmes of MCL were listed in LearnDirect, the UK national learning directory, and by Hobsons/Trotman Information Services, then the most comprehensive database of further, undergraduate and postgraduate courses and institution information, covering the UK and Eire. In addition, MCL became a member of the Alternative Education Resource Organization, a non-profit organization in New York, USA, founded in 1989 in order to advance learner-centred approaches to education. AERO was considered at that time by many to be the primary hub of communications and support for educational alternatives around the world.
In addition, discussions were opened with several recognized university-level institutions, one in Australia and another in Denmark, who agreed to recognize MCL diplomas for credit towards their degrees by distance learning. Several evaluators of foreign credentials in the USA recognized MCL diplomas as being of a standard equivalent to recognized degrees.
While MCL was quickly recognised as one of the first educational institutions to offer prior learning assessment to working professionals, it also became a focus for online controversy, much of which reflected the vested interests of the educational establishment in stifling any potentially disruptive innovation outside it. This took the form of a smear campaign consisting largely of personal attacks and inaccurate statements. In a newsletter to faculty and students, I wrote the following, “What we are aiming to achieve at MCL is highly innovative and something of a challenge to the educational establishment. The idea of taking power from the educational institution and giving it to students remains revolutionary today, despite many significant precedents, as does running education on an enlightened business model. I hope that you will take pride in your association with an educational experiment that could well go on to have widespread influence for the better. In the words of Pericles, “The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom is Courage.”
In an unrelated development, our partner St George’s College, London, changed ownership in March 2006, and left the Marylebone campus. This brought about the end of our working partnership and left us without a campus.
In general, the calibre of applicants and graduates of MCL was high, but their numbers were always small. The market at that time was seeking either degree programmes, which we were not legally able to offer, or short courses, and our diplomas and certificates fell somewhere between the two. On recommendation from a faculty advisor, we increased the number of short courses on offer and placed less emphasis on the APEL diploma programmes. However, this strategy had the opposite effect from that intended and reduced applications still further.
Since 2003, work had also been progressing on what would become European-American University, which would in June 2007 obtain overseas degree-granting authority in the Commonwealth of Dominica, and it was always planned that there would be an eventual synchronization of institutions in consequence of this anticipated development.
The EAU project had several different working names during its pre-launch period, one of which was Marquess University (under which name it was briefly incorporated as a private international university in Panama in 2005). While at one point a draft of a website for Marquess University was accidentally uploaded to the internet, it was never open to the public and did not recruit or graduate any students. Nor was it organizationally connected with MCL except in terms of sharing faculty and management. Rather, it had been intended that Marquess University would eventually appoint Marquess Educational Consultants, Ltd., as its British agent to offer its programmes in the UK. However, this did not in the event happen.
Reflecting the developments with MCL, it was decided in September 2006 to refocus energies upon the EAU project, and most of the work that had been planned for MCL was consequently diverted pending the launch of EAU to the public later in 2007.
With respect to the MCL organization itself, I consequently undertook a major revision that relaunched it in September 2006 as a specialist rather than generalist college devoted to theology and church music called St Simon’s College, London. This preserved much of the assessment methodology and educational principles of MCL, but in a more restricted context that was in keeping with my ministerial work of the time. A number of short courses in Liberal Christian Theology and Ministry were added to the programmes being offered. St. Simon’s College served as the seminary for The Independent Old Catholic Church of the Utrecht Succession and The Liberal Rite which were the denominations within which my ministry was at that time carried out.
With the launch of the educational programmes of European-American University to the public in late 2007, St. Simon’s College, London, and its predecessor Marquess College, London, ceased their independent existence and were absorbed into the University. Their graduates continue to be verifiable through the University today. For some time, I continued my credential-related work through Marquess Educational Consultants, Ltd., but in late 2009 I transferred this elsewhere.
On 26 January 2010, Marquess Educational Consultants, Ltd., was dissolved. The company was in good standing at the time of its dissolution and had settled all debts and ceased trading before the dissolution process was started.
Marquess College, London, the London Academy of Professional Management and St. Simon’s College, London, were defined as colleges of further education and awarded certificates and diplomas under English law. They did not offer degree awards since they did not have the necessary legal powers to do so, although some of the diploma and certificate awards that were offered were examined at an advanced level corresponding to that of undergraduate and postgraduate awards.