The University of Suffolk is encouraging prospective students to research higher education thoroughly after its images were used to promote a fake educational institution.

A website for a fake school called the 'College of Suffolk', claiming to be founded in 1990, has been shut down by Suffolk Trading Standards.

The website, which was being run from Hong Kong and targeting overseas students, featured pictures of the University of Suffolk's Ipswich Waterfront building.

Ipswich Star: The home page of the fake websiteThe home page of the fake website (Image: Suffolk Trading Standards)

A spokesman from the University of Suffolk said: "We would encourage any prospective students to research universities and colleges thoroughly, and anyone who is interested in applying to study for a degree awarded by the University of Suffolk can contact us through our official website.

"Our website also has the contact details for our admissions team, who can chat through any concerns with prospective students."

Suffolk Trading Standards said it has received no reports of victims to the scam from the UK, but there may be some overseas.

The 'College of Suffolk' offered courses in acting, musical theatre, dance and performance with prices quoted ranging between £3,500 to £8,900.

Graham Crisp, head of Suffolk Trading Standards, said: "Websites like this can be used to attract students, collect personal information and course fees. They can also be used to sell fake degree certificates."

Ipswich Star: Councillor Andrew ReidCouncillor Andrew Reid (Image: Suffolk County Council)

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for public health, public protection and communities, Andrew Reid, added: "A degree from a British college or university is an enticing prospect for an overseas student and those behind this were trying to exploit that.

"Thankfully the vigilance of Suffolk Trading Standards has prevented this website from trying to pick up where it would appear to have previously left off and will not be conning people into paying for non-existent courses."

Trading Standards has also said that anyone considering applying for college courses can beat degree fraud through the Higher Education Degree Datacheck.