News, Views & Information

In this section of our site, we provide visitors with news, information and our views on matters relating to learning, accreditation and credentialing. Please provide us with your email address if you would like us to email you our posting directly to your mailbox.

Can e-scrolls stop University Malaya from having to deal with fake degrees in its name?

posted Jun 14, 2014, 3:16 AM by Everboleh Chow

University Malaya announced recently that it is going ahead with e-scrolls soon. The question to ask is, will this stop the problem of fake degrees?

We don't think so. Somebody somewhere is going to crack this e-scrolls. What about those who have already graduated before the implementation of e-scrolls?
Read more:

No law to penalise fake degree holders, Putrajaya says

posted Oct 5, 2013, 2:13 AM by Everboleh Chow

From The Malay Mail

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

October 2, 2013
Ong said the reply by Shahidan was inconsistent as the government had not taken any action against ministers who allegedly faked their qualifications. – Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — There are no laws to penalise those with fake degrees including ministers, Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim told the Dewan Rakyat today.

In reply to a question by Serdang DAP lawmaker Ong Kian Ming, Shahidan said Parliament must draft new laws for the authorities to take action against those with dubious qualifications but noted that any civil servant found to have faked his qualifications will be sacked immediately.

“If he wants to just hang his degree at home and look at it, for his personal use, what can we do? If we want to take action then we must draft up new laws,” the minister said.

But Ong said the reply by Shahidan was inconsistent as the government had not taken any action against ministers who allegedly faked their qualifications.

“His reply is unsatisfactory and inconsistent. How can no action be taken against people like Riot who himself admitted to having a degree from a well-known degree mill,” he told a press conference later.

Ong had in the past claimed Serian MP and Human Resources Minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem and Ranau MP Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin had received degrees from universities identified as degree mills.

He also claimed Mohammed Emir Mavani Abdullah, the chief executive officer of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd, as having questionable qualifications.

“The government not only appoints him to that post, they also gave him 150,000 FGVH shares worth RM500,000. This show the BN government is not consistent, it penalises civil servants for fake degrees but does not punish the person at a high post in a GLC,“ Ong said.

The MP also claimed Baling MP Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, who was appointed as chairman of Lembaga Tabung Haji, as another whose qualifications were questionable.

Ong claimed a check on their online profiles from their respective employment websites show their qualifications had been removed.

“Why were they removed when it was just there previously? Is it an admission that they are fake?”

While Riot has denied the allegation, others implicated have remained silent.

During Question Time this morning, Riot again dismissed the accusation.

“I am the elected MP for Serian for six consecutive terms. As a former deputy foreign minister, I have represented Malaysia outside the country and given speeches in English not less than 50 times.

“There is a difference between fake degree and qualifications from unrecognised universities. I worked very hard for it because I believe in life-long learning”, he said.

Ong had previously called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to sack members of his Cabinet found with engineered academic qualifications to prove his commitment to government reform.

P3 Says:
Preston University of the USA is a confirmed degree mill by the Council for Higher Education USA. There is no question that a learned and VIP who held the rank of deputy minister did not have the means of finding this out. The question of recognition by the Public Service Department does not arise. What was not challenged was the fact that Preston is a degree mill and the award is unaccredited. There is a distinct difference between not being recognised and unaccredited. PSD only recognises qualifications in which it will hire candidates for public service. Thus if a qualification has never been needed in a civil service job, such as a funeral director with a degree in funeral direction or Christian pastor with a degree in divinity, PSD will not have either in its list of recognised qualifications. Now both the funeral director and the Christian pastor may well have their respective qualifications awarded by accredited institutions overseas. The butt of the joke is, PSD untill around 2004-5 still issued its recognition to doctorate and masters from the like of Preston as it held the position that, "so long as an applicant's first degree is recognised, his/her postgraduate degrees are deemed to be recognised." One should doubt the wisdom of the person who started all this in the PSD!

Now Malaysian Minister found to have fake degrees!

posted Jun 26, 2013, 11:31 PM by Dr. YN Chow

This was from Free Malaysia Today.

‘Ministers with fake degrees sworn in’

Anisah Shukry
 | June 26, 2013

Ministers Richard Riot and Dr Ewon Ebin should resign immediately, says DAP. However Riot denies the fake degree claim.


KUALA LUMPUR: DAP today flayed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for allowing two Barisan Nasional ministers with “fake degrees” to sit in on the first day of ministerial replies in parliament.

DAP leaders Ong Kiang Ming, Zairil Khir Johari and Julian Tan Kok Ping called for Najib to immediately ask for the resignation of the Human Resources minister Richard Riot, and the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) Dr Ewon Ebin.

According to Ong, Ewon’s alma maters, the Golden State University in Wyoming and the Commonwealth Open University in the British Virgin Islands, are listed as ‘unauthorised schools and invalid degrees’ by the Oregon and Maine state governments.

Meanwhile, Ong, who is Serdang MP and DAP election strategist, said he was unable to find any website belonging to the Chartered Institute of Business Administration, which is where Riot received his Bachelor of Administration.

Riot also has a Masters in Business Administration from Preston University – a well-known bogus university, according to media reports.

“This is a huge scandal because on Monday, we swore that we would carry out our responsibilities with honesty. But these two ministers each have two fake degrees. So how honest are they?” said Bukit Bendera MP Zairil.

Ong said it was extremely ironic that these two BN leaders were in charge of ministries dealing with human capital development, proper accreditation, certification and standards.

“For example, the Human Resources ministry (MoHR) has the responsibility to ‘revise, update and develop the syllabus of skills training, skills certification system and skills standard for implementation’,” he said, quoting the MoHR website.

“The Department of Skills Development, which is under MoHR, has to manage the quality assurance and accreditation of the Malaysian Skills Certification programme,” he added.

The ministry which Ewon heads, on the other hand, gives out millions in grants and is responsible for protecting and safeguarding Intellectual Property rights, he said.

Ong also pointed out that the Departments of Standards Malaysia, an agency under the ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation, dealt with the accreditation process for many laboratories nationwide.

“Therefore, to entrust two ministers with fake degrees with the serious responsibilities of human capital development and the management of certifications and standards is not only a gross embarrassment but also most ironic for a prime minister who has made transformation his clarion call,” said Ong.

‘I studied in University of Hertfordshire’

But in a separate press conference, Riot, a former deputy foreign minister, told reporters he “strongly rebutted” what the DAP leaders had said.

“I received my Degree and Masters from the University of Hertfordshire, London, not as mentioned here,” he said, indicating the press statement circulated by Ong earlier today.

“I don’t know where they got the information (that I have degrees from Preston University and the  Chartered Institute of Business Administration). It is not true,” he stressed.

But when reporters pointed out that Ong had referred to the Foreign Ministry’s website to obtain his credentials, Riot said this was “immaterial”.

Riot also did not provide any academic transcripts to substantiate his claim.

Instead, he said he would get his lawyers to handle the issue.

- See more at:

P3 says:
The integrity of a person is very important, especially for one who holds high position. If such VIPs think that they can get away with dubious qualifications, what would the Joe-the-public not do to get a job. Employers need to be vigilant. If in doubt check out the job applicants' credentials. Get professional help if the job is crucial for your business's success.

Politicians with fake degrees

posted Jun 26, 2013, 11:24 PM by Dr. YN Chow

This was from Free Malaysia Today April 2013....very interesting read. On hindsight, could this have cost the gentleman his election chances?‘dubious-degrees’-of-bn-hopefuls/

Ong reveals more ‘dubious degrees’, Kohilan shows proof

Anisah Shukry
 | April 18, 2013

Kohilan today shows proof that he did not buy his degrees as claimed by Ong.


PETALING JAYA: Fresh from accusing five BN candidates of having bogus degrees, DAP today trained its guns on the sketchy credentials of two deputy ministers and a MCA hopeful.

DAP election strategist Ong Kian Ming charged that Deputy Foreign Ministers A Kohilan Pillay and Richard Riot each had two degrees from universities listed as “dubious institutions” by media reports.

“I challenge Kohilan to take legal action against me because not only does he have a Masters degree from a bogus university, his undergraduate degree is also from a bogus university!” said Ong in a statement today.

Yesterday, Kohilan had threatened to sue Ong for saying he received his masters from a “degree mill”, Western Pacific University.

But far from backing down, Ong today pointed to Kohilan’s Bachelor of Economics from the Connaught University, Republic of Ireland, as stated on the Foreign Minister website.

“Not only does Connaught University not have a website, it was among the list of ‘dubious institutions’ listed down by the Star in a Starprobe investigation, right alongside the Pacific Western University!” revealed Ong.

Riot’s Bachelor degree from Chartered Institute of Business Administration (Ireland), Teoranta and Masters degree from Preston University were similarly suspect, Ong claimed.

“Not only could I not find any website belonging to the abovementioned Chartered Institute of Business Administration (Ireland), Teoranta, Preston University is a well-known bogus university as reported by numerous newspaper reports.

“Such behavior is totally unethical and unacceptable for any leader, not to mention two national leaders that are supposed to represent our nation on the international stage,” stressed Ong.

Ong also hit out at the two deputy foreign ministers’ audacity in listing their “fake degrees” on the Foreign Ministry website.

He pointed out that in February, German Education Minister Annette Schavan resigned after a portion of her doctoral thesis was revealed to have been plagiarised.

“This is a demonstration of how a normal democracy would treat this kind of dishonest behaviour.

“But only in Malaysia would we allow two deputy foreign ministers to get away with having not just one but TWO fake degrees each,” quipped Ong.

A question of integrity

Meanwhile, the MBA held by MCA candidate for Seputeh, Nicole Wong, from the West Coast University Panama was equally shady, Ong said.

“…[The university] is not recognised by the National Council of University Assessment and Accreditation (CONEAUPA) in Panama.

“It is also listed as one of the universities which are ‘unauthorised schools’ and which issues ‘invalid degrees’ by the state of Oregon in the United States,” revealed Ong.

The opposition leader also pointed out that Lee Ban Seng’s claim yesterday that he actually graduated from the American Liberty University, and not “degree mill” Rutherford University as stated in his biodata, did not absolve him.

“The problem remains since the American Liberty University is also reported to be a degree mill and a non-accredited university,” said Ong.

He reiterated that one need not be a graduate to be a public elected official.

“But having lied about how one has obtained a degree most certainly disqualifies a person, from an integrity standpoint, from being a candidate.”

He called on the candidates to explain to the public whether their degrees were properly earned or purchased.

“If they acknowledge that their degrees were purchased, I call for them to withdraw their candidacy for the upcoming 13th general election,” said Ong.

Kohilan shows proof

In a related development, Kohilan today showed reporters his thesis for his master’s degree and the transcript of his bachelor’s degree examination results as proof of his academic qualifications.

Kohilan brought along the proof to the press conference held at the party headquarters, here, to refute Ong’s claim.

Kohilan had obtained a Master of Science in Industrial Economics from the Pacific Western University, United States in 1992, one year after he received a bachelor’s degree from Connaught University, Ireland.

He said the Pacific Western University was closed when it was found to have sold degrees, 14 years after he completed his studies there.

Hence, Kohilan wants Ong to apologise for his false allegation on his academic qualifications and may take legal action if Ong continues with the allegation.

Kohilan said he went abroad to further his studies after completing Form Six in 1987.

“I obtained all my academic qualifications by studying hard, so there is no truth to the allegation that I bought my degrees,” he said.

Kohilan said after getting his master’s degree in 1992, he became a lecturer in economics and statistics at Stamford College until 2008.

He said he had also written two books on economics for students sitting for the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia examination.

Also read:

BM hopefuls have bogus degrees

- See more at:

Dubious degrees & why "clients" go for them

posted Jun 15, 2013, 11:07 PM by Everboleh Chow   [ updated Jun 15, 2013, 11:11 PM ]

This was published by an associate of P3 in Focus Malaysia (15 - 21 June 2013 edition). A segment of the full article is copied here. You can read the full article by subscribing to Focus Malaysia (

UK's New Verification Systems Caught Those With Fake Degrees

posted Sep 15, 2012, 2:59 AM by May Ong

From Times Higher Education

New verification system uncovers dozens of bogus universities

12 September 2012

A degree verification system has uncovered more than 130 bogus UK universities in just three months.

The Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) system, launched in June, aims to tackle the problem of degree fraud by enabling employers to easily verify candidate qualifications online.

It has already flagged up more than 130 universities and colleges that incorrectly claim to award UK degrees, with more "degree mills" being detected weekly.

The HEDD is operated by Graduate Prospects, the UK's official graduate careers support service.

Chief executive Mike Hill said it would be impossible to stamp out bogus HEIs completely, but that the system was helping to highlight organisations that have operated illegally.

"The list of institutions we have to date goes back to 1990, and while not all of them will still be active, they have been in our system at some point and anyone can still name them on their CV," he said.

"The wider issue of degree fraud is unlikely to diminish unless a solution is developed that not only addresses the problem but also eases the administrative burden, simplifies the verification process and reduces costs."

Mr Hill said the HEDD system was doing what it could, but warned there was "still a job to be done".

"We are calling out to the sector and to employers to come together and help stamp out activity that damages the reputation of a UK education," he said.

P3 Says
Imagine that even a very established higher education market with great long history and great system of controls has the same bogus qualifications issue. This demonstrates the need for greater vigilance than ever before for those responsible for vetting academic qualifications. Thus when someone tells you that he has a degree from the UK, you need to take it with a pinch of salt if he cannot furnish you with details of his studies. However, unless the verification system can be made accessible to the public, there is very little we can do about forged testamurs, even if there are security features such as microdots etc....if there is no quick way of verifying the serial numbers etc embedded in such a document. It still needs the old "manual" way of sieving the chaff from the grain! Thus employers are well advised to engaged the services of professionals to have the peace of mind.

Is Newport University California aka Janus University accredited?

posted Aug 17, 2012, 2:10 AM by Dr. YN Chow   [ updated Aug 18, 2012, 9:49 PM ]

There was an interesting article in today's Malaysia Chronicle in which a prominent politician who is a sitting Menteri Besar or Chief Minister of a state in Malaysia whose PhD from Newport University California (which was quoted by the gentleman concerned to have been renamed Janus University) was the subject of debate. This article aims to take an objective look at the issue and let the reader decide based solely on the facts uncovered by us.

What P3 says:
1. MQA Registry of Qualifications
The key question to ask, is really not whether the MQA has this entity (either Newport University or Janus University) listed in its registry of qualifications. This is because MQA's list is pertaining to qualifications offered and conferred almost entirely by institutions IN Malaysia or those from overseas institutions that have collaborations with Malaysian colleges. Clearly as the article has pointed out, this is not the case. Interestingly, University of Wales has a 18 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes listed in MQA's registry and University of Wales is also listed as "Luar Negara". This means that, MQA's registry does contain qualifications of institutions which do not offer their programmes locally.

Hence whether a foreign institution's qualifications appear in MQA's registry should not be used as a means to measure the accreditation status of that institution. However in this case, since the said gentleman's qualification was obtained in Malaysia, it implies that the local private institution in which this qualification was offered did not comply with the Private Higher Education Act (ACTA 555). The other deduction is that this provider was (or still is, if it is still around) not a bone fide IPTS (approved private institution of higher learning) and thus, prior to the amendment to ACTA 555, there was no need for it to be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education (later Higher Education) and hence Lembaga Akreditasi Negara (the former name of MQA).

Based on our own knowledge of the private higher education industry, Newport University did have a local operation in the late 1990s and up to early 2000s which was operated by an entrepreneur from Hong Kong (who had a similar operation there). Thus the gentleman's claim of his having to work for the award may have some credence as we have known a former senior staff of Newport University's operation in Malaysia who had confirmed with us that there would be significant learning inputs from the part of the students. However, what we are not able to ascertain is the standard, rigour, breadth and depth of the knowledge gained and generated by someone at doctorate level from Newport University, California. 

2. Is Newport University an accredited institution?
We have checked with the relevant official sites (including the CHEA and and found that Newport University is not recognized by any of the accreditation agencies officially accepted by the Department of Education of the US to carry out accreditation of higher education institutions. Hence the gentleman's claim of Newport University being internationally recognized does not tally with the facts. In addition, contrary to the gentleman's claim that Newport University has been re-designated as Janus University, we have indeed been able to reach Newport's website: but this time the site claims that Newport is now located in Europe! The website of Janus University, California ( was not reachable. 

There are thousands of institutions of higher learning in the US and the majority take the learning and certification aspect, i.e. accreditation very seriously. It is therefore not difficult for one to locate an accredited institution (all one has to do is to approach bone fide private colleges which have American Degree Transfer Program or Malaysian American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE)). However, almost in all cases we are talking about students either going to the US directly or via a 2+2 American Degree Transfer Program with one of the major private colleges locally and transfer to the US after studying locally for 2 years. As far as we can tell, no private colleges were, in 2002, approved to provide PhD programmes in collaboration with any local or foreign institutions of higher learning. But there were (and still are) many providers who are not approved private colleges providing such postgraduate studies, especially in the early 2000s.

P3's conclusion:
We think that the gentleman concerned, back in 2002 was not aware of the intricacy of the mechanism of accreditation and accredited institutions. We have reasons (based on our own experience and exposure with people associated with Newport University) to believe that the gentleman concerned had attended many classes, done lots of work for the doctorate degree. We do not however, since we do not have any way of evaluating the doctoral thesis and other relevant work of the said PhD, have any way to ascertain the standard of the PhD awarded. We can firmly opine that the said PhD is not from an accredited institution. How is the learning outcomes achieved by the gentleman concerned and how well these are applied to his work remains the prerogative of his peers in the Government and his voters.

One of our readers in the US (whom has given us permission to quote his response here) says:
"Hi Chow,
When my son was looking for a place to get a degree I checked out Newport University because they seemed to be close to where I live. Their website was different then. I think that they were then a diploma mill (pay your money get a diploma) at best and a scam at worst. I think that at the time they had a physical "campus."  Now they seem to be an online "university." They have probably not changed. The European angle may be a lie.  "

In Summary:
Our investigation shows that Newport University (aka Janus University) is not and never was an accredited institution in the US. Therefore their degrees are worthless. The latest developments and their European location do not change that.

Even Accredited US Universities Duped Into Hiring 3 Professors with fake degrees!

posted Aug 15, 2012, 3:14 AM by Dr. YN Chow   [ updated Aug 15, 2012, 3:18 AM ]

This investigative report from the US shows that University District of Columbia, an accredited institution hired professors with fake degrees from degree mills such as Commonwealth Open University!

FOX 5 Investigates: UDC professors earn degrees from 'diploma mill'

Posted: Jul 26, 2012 9:34 AM Updated: Aug 09, 2012 11:12 AM
By Sherri Ly, @SherriLyFox5

They are colleges in name only, diploma mills, where a degree can be bought and paid for with very little work. These bogus universities lack recognition from any legitimate agency. A FOX 5 investigation discovered some professors at the University of the District of Columbia who claim to have Ph.D.s, got them from a school that fits the government definition of a diploma mill.

Unlike accredited institutions where it takes years to earn a college education, even more for a Ph.D., Commonwealth Open University doesn't have the same requirements. A doctorate costs $3,450.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which oversees accrediting in the United States, considers a Ph.D. from there nothing short of a phony degree. Judith Eaton, CHEA's president said it's "highly unlikely" Commonwealth's degrees aren't worth the paper they're written on.

"An employer should want conformation of the legitimacy of the degree. I think they would have trouble getting it," Eaton said.

It may be worthless, but the degree didn't raise red flags for three UDC professors in the criminal justice department. That Ph.D. also earned the professors a bump in salary.

Angelyn Flowers, who teaches in homeland security and is Director of the master's degree program, earned her Ph.D. from Commonwealth Open University. So did Sinclair Jeter, an assistant professor in criminal justice, and professor Margaret Moore, who once ran the Department of Corrections under former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.

"Honestly, that's a little bit insulting to the rest of us trying to obtain our degrees or bachelor's," said Tyrone Gibson, who is taking classes at UDC for the summer.

Students at the school were disturbed that the university was unaware of the questionable degrees obtained by faculty. The lack of legitimate credentials also angered them.

"That's serious. I worked hard for my first degree and I'm just shocked," said Alex Garrett, another UDC student.

Commonwealth Open University is registered in the British Virgin Islands. It has no address on its website, just a post office box. The university claims to be accredited by the Wiener School for Advanced Studies on Global Education and Distance Learning. In an e-mail, it explained its disputed accreditation and said, "No course is ever going to be accredited or recognized everywhere."

It's not recognized by the Department of Education for financial aid eligibility or a legitimate accrediting agency in the United States or the equivalent body in Britain. Under federal law, it meets the definition of a diploma mill.

"I would call them that (fake)," said CHEA's Eaton.

In response to our findings, Dr. Ken Bain, UDC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, issued a statement saying in part, "The overwhelming majority of UDC's professors and leaders are extremely talented, credentialed professionals with doctorates, or other appropriate terminal degrees ... Rest assured, we will address anyone who does not meet our stringent internal review standards as we continue crafting the model university."

To show how easy it would be to get a degree from Commonwealth Open University, I submitted an application claiming to be a history teacher with 15 years experience seeking a doctorate.

Without requiring transcripts or proof of work, Commonwealth accepted me into its Ph.D. program. I was told all I needed to complete was a 50-page report, and of course, pay. I didn't enroll, but they made it seem like a piece of cake.

Compare that to a doctorate from a recognized accredited university, which usually takes more than eight years and cost an average of $39,700 in 2008, according to the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

"At the very least, you're going to have to take doctoral study, you're going to have to do research and you're going to have to write a doctoral dissertation which could take years," said Eaton, describing the typical doctoral process.

Getting a Ph.D. in a matter of months or less should raise concerns about its legitimacy.

"If you get a diploma mill doctorate, you can get one by the time you go home for dinner," Eaton said.

It's not just UDC. An investigation by the Chronicle of Higher Education found professors with diploma mill degrees across the country at all levels.

A 2004 report by the Government Accountability Office found hundreds of government workers with fake degrees too. Some were bought and paid for at taxpayer expense.

D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie called for a thorough investigation. He chairs the Jobs and Workforce Development Committee that oversees UDC. In a statement to FOX 5, McDuffie wrote, "I am deeply concerned to learn of the questions raised about the credentials of three UDC professors who hold Ph.D.'s from Commonwealth Open University, a non-accredited institution ... I will continue to monitor the developments and will review the hiring policies of UDC at a future oversight hearing when the council reconvenes."

The diploma mill business is a billion dollar industry and hands out an estimated 200,000 phony degrees a year. A New York congressman introduced legislation two years ago to crack down on diploma mills, but it failed.

The illegitimate Ph.D.s could be potentially damaging to UDC's accreditation as it tries to raise standards. Attempts to track down the professors on campus failed. Professor Jeter did tell FOX 5 he did his doctorate work at the University of Paris but ran out of time. He couldn't find another university to accept his work except for Commonwealth Open University and claims he thought it was a legitimate degree. The other two professors did not return our calls requesting a formal interview.

"They should lose their jobs. That's like discrediting the university," said UDC student Romel Greene.

Professor Flowers has a law degree from Georgetown University. All three were hired at UDC before getting a Commonwealth Open University Ph.D. The unaccredited degree doesn't necessarily make them unqualified said Eaton.

"No, it makes their judgment highly questionable," she said.

Given all three professors have undergraduate and graduate degrees from recognized U.S. institutions, some would say they're too smart not to know a Ph.D. this easy is from a diploma mill.

Statement from Ken Bain, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of the District of Columbia:

"The University of the District of Columbia has been undergoing radical changes, building a new kind of institution that will become the model for 21st century public higher education. The overwhelming majority of UDC's professors and leaders are extremely talented, credentialed professionals with doctorates, or other appropriate terminal degrees, from the world's leading universities and should be commended for the work they do every day. Even at that, we are raising the bar beyond credentials to focus on quality pedagogy and research and to become the center of "deep learning" that enriches and enhances our students' education and preparation and that benefits our communities and the world in which we live. Rest assured, we will address anyone who does not meet our stringent internal review standards as we continue crafting the model university."

Statement from Ward 5 D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie:

"As Chair of the Committee on Jobs and Workforce Development, I and my colleagues on the Committee are tasked with the oversight of several agencies including the University of the District of Columbia ("UDC").

I am committed to the goal of ensuring that the students at UDC receive a quality university education, competitive with similarly situated schools across the nation.

Key to the overall quality of a university is the quality of the instruction it provides. I am deeply concerned to learn of the questions raised about the credentials of three UDC professors who hold PhD's from Commonwealth Open University, a non-accredited institution. I have requested that UDC conduct an expeditious investigation into this matter. Furthermore, as part of the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Support Act the Council required that UDC develop and begin implementing a comprehensive "right-sizing" plan that will provide a strategic blueprint. The blueprint must address how the University can move forward in a manner that will not just address the fiscal concerns, but will also address all the University's concerns, including personnel.

I expect that UDC's leadership shares my concern and that they will conduct a thorough investigation and take appropriate action. I will continue to monitor the developments and will review the hiring policies of UDC at a future oversight hearing when the Council reconvenes."

Statement by Commonwealth Open University:

Commonwealth Open University is an international institution registered and established in the British Virgin Islands (UK), which has students all over the world. Our educational programs are acknowledged as the foremost and we are very committed to quality in services. The University has affiliated organizations in several countries. COU is a member of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth, an NGO founded nearly 40 years ago, which is based in the UK Parliament with strong links to the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Accreditation and recognition is an extremely complex issue, given that there are hundreds of accreditation bodies around the world, and no course is ever going to be accredited or recognised everywhere. The important thing is that you choose education that is going to be meaningful for what you need. The best indicators of our credibility are the quality of our staff and the testimonials from our students. COU is accredited by the accrediting commission of Wiener School for Advanced Studies on Global Education and Distance Learning. WSAS is an independent certification and accreditation agency. Accreditation is an assurance and a guarantee that the learning offered is of uniform and sound quality. COU has been assessed, examined, and verified by WSAS. Commonwealth Open University is ISO 9001 certified. ISO 9001 is the internationally recognised standard for the quality management of businesses. COU is also organizational member of the United States Distance Learning Association. USDLA is the premier distance learning association around the world.

Our graduates have had remarkable success in having their degrees accepted. Many large corporations have accepted and paid for degree programs for our graduates and students. Several alumni are currently teaching at well known universities. Although we can not guarantee that a COU degree will be accepted, we will gladly supply information to potential or current employers or institutions. In relation to the credit transfer to other universities, it all depends on where you want to go. Some traditional colleges still take a dim view of distance education.

During the sixteen years we have been operating and offering degree programs by distance learning to students all over the world, we have not had negative news regarding the recognition of our degree programs. In fact, our graduates are highly satisfied after having completed their studies at this university. On our web site, you can find comments about COU given by some of our alumni and other institutions.

The magazine of the United States Distance Learning Association, January 1997, Volume 11#1 says the following: "A virtual university emulates a physical university, adding the global interactive advantage of computers in bridging time and space. It enables teaching and learning to occur anytime/anywhere. It has built in mechanisms for assessment and accountability. Virtual University programs may be housed within a conventional university, it can result from a consortium of universities, or it can originate in a teaching institution where no students are physically present, such as the Commonwealth Open University".

COU formally announced on December 15, 2009, the proposed development of a micro-satellite. The micro-satellite Igdal-1 will be a comparatively simple one weighing around 20 kg. It will have body-mounted solar panels generating about 40 Watt of electrical power and will be spin-stabilised. This is expected to provide impetus for other universities to take up similar projects in the coming years.

The Department of Sociology of the University is working on an investigation project on sociology of cyberspace. It is a collaborative project with coordinating professors from a variety of disciplines including sociology, anthropology, philosophy, business, art, and information technology. The sociology of cyberspace examines the contemporary revolution in human interaction via computer.

The Department of Mathematics of the University will focus mathematical research in the fields of dynamic processes in the mantle, oceans, and atmosphere. COU is a participant in a special year of broadly based programs in 2013 on the Mathematics of Planet Earth. We invite the COU community to propose workshops, thematic programs, and conferences that are aligned with this global initiative.

The COU Business Consulting Service is a student-run management consulting team, employing top business administration graduates and members of the faculty from Commonwealth Open University's business programs. Since 2004, our mission has been to provide affordable management consultancy services to organizations. We provide a comprehensive range of consultancy services, specializing in the small-and-medium business, business start-up, and not-for-profit sectors. We offer the service and dedication of a professional consulting firm, but at a fraction of the cost.

The comment about unaccredited university is based on a list elaborated years ago that includes some distance learning schools that are not accredited in some states in the USA. As you know, we are not an American institution and, in consequence, we are not accredited in the USA.

There are a lot of universities that are not accredited in the USA, but probably we are mentioned on that old list from two states due to our students can be spread all over the world.

The term "accreditation" is an American concept that now begin to use every body but not clearly defined for other countries where the universities must exclusively fulfill the legal requirements.

All prospectives students from the USA are clearly advised by us that "We are not accredited in the USA".

Accreditation is simply a validation process by which institutions of higher education are evaluated. The standards used to conduct these evaluations vary. During the 1990s, controversy arose over the accreditation of completely virtual universities like COU. This issue has not yet been settled. Some of us think that new standards are needed to properly evaluate distance education. The fact is that many distance education programs cross regional borders and are offered all over the world. New international standards and bona fide agencies are needed in order to evaluate these virtual schools.

Even if two institutions are accredited they may not allow you to transfer credit from one to the other. You should avoid an accredited or unaccredited institution that grants degrees without ensuring students are properly qualified.

Accreditation and recognition is an extremely complex issue, given that there are hundreds of accreditation bodies around the world, and no course is ever going to be accredited or recognised everywhere. The important thing is that you choose education that is going to be meaningful for what you need. The best indicators of their credibility are the quality of their staff and the testimonials from their students.

COU was accredited by the the United Kingdom Commission for Consistent Learning until 31st December 2009. Some months before the UK-CCL informed us that they will not continue accrediting colleges and educational institutions any more in the future. This is why since September 2009 COU is accredited by Wiener School for Advanced Studies as you can see on our web site.

We did not have news about a University in Washington D.C. where several faculty members had earned degrees from COU. If you want us to confirm their achievements at COU, please provide us the names of them.

I can assure you that COU is a bona fide institution. We are at your disposal for any further information or clarification you may need.

Sincerely yours,

Mary L. Rua
Admissions & Operations
Commonwealth Open University


A good commentary on the above investigative report is found here:

3 University Of District Columbia Professors Hold Degrees That Deceive: Sport Ph.D.s From 'Diploma Mills'

The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted: 07/27/2012 1:49 pm Updated: 07/27/2012 1:49 pm

The University of District Columbia gave three professors raises when they received Ph.D.s. That's standard in academia -- unless the degrees are worthless.

UDC professors Angelyn FlowersSinclair Jeter and Maragaret Moore received their Ph.D.s from Commonwealth Open University -- a school that, according to Fox 5, is non-accredited, accepts most people to its online program without verifying backgrounds and doles out advanced diplomas in exchange for academic requirements that barely scratch the surface of accredited programs' requirements.

"Diploma mills" hand out phony degrees for cash, and Fox 5 reports that COU is part of a billion-dollar industry that distributes an estimated 200,000 fake degrees annually. Online Education Database indicates that the industry is worth at least between $200 to $500 million.

While the average Ph.D. candidate will spend tens of thousands to earn a degree, a Ph.D. from COU costs just under $3,500.

Fox 5's Sherri Ly demonstrated how easily a person can enter COU's Ph.D. program. She writes about how she applied to COU by lying that she was a history teacher with 15 years of experience. One online form and no background check later, and she was accepted to the program.

"Without requiring transcripts or proof of work, Commonwealth accepted me into its Ph.D. program," Ly said. "I was told all I needed to complete was a 50-page report, and of course, pay. I didn't enroll, but they made it seem like a piece of cake."

UDC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Ken Bain expressed his concerns in a statement to Fox 5 about the professors' degrees from COU. He said the university plans to investigate the matter.

"As far as the integrity of the university, when we look to hire a professor, we look to the totality of the individual," said Alan Etter, vice president of university relations and public affairs in an interview with Fox 5. [The professors] have good track records; they're good professors; [they've] demonstrated an ability to lift students up."

USA Today reported in 2003 on the dangers of professionals toting around fake degrees that they've used to gain positions of power. For example, a doctor with a slew of degrees plastering his walls from degree mills is now serving time for medical malpractice after duping a woman into taking advice on her daughter's health that ultimately took her life.

World Education Services offers a webpage with an extensive listing of articles dedicated to helping students identify and avoid diploma mills.

Diploma Mills - Opinion Piece From Malaysia's Sin Chew Jit Poh

posted Aug 15, 2012, 3:05 AM by Dr. YN Chow

Unscrupulous diploma mill
 2012-08-11 13:37

Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily

Please believe me that you can actually buy a diploma, degree or a PhD certificate for your dog, cat or even chicken, as long as you have money.

It is not a joke. There are too many ridiculous things in reality and it is not impossible to find a dog, a cat or a chicken with a university certificate.

There is something called diploma mill in the world that awards certificates without requiring students to study hard, attend classes, take examination and complete research papers. All it requires is money.

To put it simple, a diploma mill is an organisation that produces and sells fake certificates not recognised by official educational accrediting bodies.

I am very concerned about the damage the unhealthy trend caused to the society and country.

According to Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper Wen Wei Po, the number of diploma mills has been reduced from 1,500 two years ago to the current 691. However, they have changed their approach and the number of their operation locations has been increased by 10 compared to two years ago.

The decrease of the number of diploma mills might show us that they are also subject to market reality. As tertiary education becomes increasingly common and the threshold to enter a university is as well gradually relaxed, the demand for diploma mills has reduced accordingly. Some of them might have even failed to survive due to "poor performance".

However, 691 is still not a small number and it might not reflect the real situation. For example, a syndicate in Malaysia involved in using five US and UK universities to fake degrees believed to have issued fake degrees to at least 525 persons and raked in more than RM5 million in fees over the past 10 years. More surprisingly, Many of those involved are eminent members of society, including some who hold "Tan Sri" titles.

Why are these social celebrities and politicians proud of their fake certificates? And some even felt offended when they were not being addressed as "Dr." in public events or social occasions. In addition to the excessive emphasis of certificates, I am afraid that the psychological phenomenon of "inferior reflex" is also worth studying.

In addition to diploma mills, we should also be aware of the increase in the number of local universities and colleges. Have their academic standards achieved the basic requirement of "excellent education"? Are there rotten apples in the basket that import criminals in the name of bringing in foreign students?

These syndicates are indeed unscrupulous. They are a tumor in the society that must be removed and eliminated. To get rid of them, we must not naively rely on the so-called self-discipline. In extraordinary times, we are in urgent need of a system, particularly legal sanctions!

Degree Mill Uncovered In Klang Valley

posted Jul 29, 2012, 5:02 PM by Everboleh Chow

Friday July 27, 2012

525 sought over degree scam


SHAH ALAM: Police are tracking 525 people who allegedly bought fake degrees and certificates from non-existent international universities.

Selangor police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah said police would like to question the 525 people in the course of their investigations.

The syndicate, which has been active since 2003, has sold up to RM5mil worth of fake certificates and degrees, he told a press conference at Selangor police headquarters.

Police have so far arrested a 37-year-old man, believed to be the mastermind, and a woman, 36, following a recent report in a Malay daily exposing the syndicate.

Concrete evidence: Some of the items seized during the raid being displayed at the Selangor police headquarters while DCP Tun Hisan (middle) addresses the press.

DCP Tun Hisan said investigations so far showed that the syndicate was being managed by a couple.

It is believed that the wife of the mastermind is a lecturer at a local university and is still at large.

DCP Tun Hisan said that following the news report and information from the Higher Education Ministry, police raided the syndicate's office at Jalan USJ 10/1A in Subang Jaya on Wednesday.

“We managed to seize lists of the bogus certificate recipients, application forms and various other documents,” he said.

The syndicate sells the certificates online by offering a bachelors degree for RM6,500, a Masters for RM8,500 and a PhD for RM10,500, plus RM1,000 in fees to take part in the convocation ceremony.

The syndicates claimed that these certificates were issued by a private institution of higher learning said to be affiliated with five universities identified as University of Rock-hampton and Harvey International University in the United States along with Cannington Brook University and Glastonbury Univeristy in United Kingdom and Charles Molnar University.

Police also said checks revealed that the universities in the United States and Britain were non-existent.

When the names of the foreign universities were keyed into the search bar on the Malaysian Qualifications Agency website, they failed to yield any result.

Other relevant articles on this topic:


P3's Comment:

There we have it.... a degree mill being uncovered. But one of the problems faced by authorities is that this is a relatively "open" case where the operator has been advertising openly and has even a seemingly "legit" institution fronting the business with razzmatazz of graduation ceremonies etc.... making it a relatively easy catch by the authorities. What is more worrying to us is the fact that there are many more degree mills out there that solely go by online transactions that are not easy to uncover and action taken on them.

One thing is wrong about The Star's report above is: Malaysian Qualifications Agency is only concerned with qualifications offered by Malaysian institutions in Malaysia. Thus its website will not have any listing on foreign qualifications that are not offered by legitimate institutions of higher learning in the country. Thus you will not find any Yale University's or Cambridge University's awards being listed in MQA's site not because these are not legitimate qualifications but rather that these are not awarded by the said institutions locally in Malaysia. So MQA's jurisdiction does not cover these. Hence what we are trying to say is: if a foreign award in which the awarding university / institution is not listed in MQA's register of qualification, it does not necessarily mean that this is a fake award,  

Perhaps if  employers are in any doubt of a qualification presented, they should consult the authorities or perhaps engage our services accordingly to assure themselves if they prefer a comprehensive investigation. After all, you do not want to hire one of the 525 people sought after by the Police as stated in the article above.

1-10 of 21