Thursday, 31 March 2011

Degrees of abuse

I am surrounded by clever, well-educated people. Many of them are much more qualified that I am. I know several people with Masters Degrees and a couple of them with PhDs and I admire enormously the hard work and sacrifices they made to get them.

However I actually don’t believe that qualifications are the most important thing for most jobs. What matters more are skills a person possesses and their experience in using them. Of course there are professions where certain qualifications are important. I want my doctor, my lawyer and my accountant to be fully qualified. I don’t care that much if my bank manager has an MBA or not, so long as she manages her branch effectively and motivates her staff. That’s not a set of skills you can get from a college or a university.

But if people DO have qualifications I want them to be real. I don’t want people pretending to have genuine qualifications when really they bought them off the internet with their credit card.

That’s why I’m becoming a fake qualifications bore. And no, I’m not going to stop going on and on about how I think people with fake qualifications are low-down cheats. These people are stealing job opportunities from people who have REAL degrees, who worked hard to get them.

In the past I’ve mentioned a variety of the fake universities that I’ve come across like Belford University, The University of SouthCentral Los Angeles and the utterly lunatic Northern Ireland Institute of Business and Technology. These are all “virtual universities”. They don’t actually exist in the real world. None of them have a campus with lots of busy-looking academics thinking lofty thoughts and stressed looking students running from room to room for their next lecture or seminar.

All they have is a postal address, a phone number, a web site and an email address. We could all set up those in an hour.

What they DO have is an impressive sounding name. Let’s take an example. Doesn’t “Knightsbridge University” sound impressive? Anyone with a little knowledge of London will know that Knightsbridge is a very prestigious part of London full of embassies, enormously over-priced shops and the most expensive apartment ever sold (it sold for over P1 billion, yes I DID mean Billion). It’s also close to Kensington, an area full of universities and museums so “Knightsbridge University” sounds good, doesn’t it?

It would if it didn’t actually operate from a post box in Denmark.

It’s not real, not even slightly. This one doesn’t even seem to have a web site.

Over the years a number of people have been exposed as cheats for claiming to have a Knightsbridge University degree. In 2000 a senior government official in Mpumalanga was “forced to resign” after claiming to have a doctorate from them. There have been several subsequent controversies when other people working for charities and parastatals around the world have similarly been exposed as cheats and lost their jobs and reputations as a result.

Then there’s the rather amazing “Ashwood Unviersity”. This one is much more high-tech and has it’s own web site. One of the first things on the web site is this appealing claim:
“No Need to Take Admission Exams, No Need To Study, Receive a College Degree for What You Already Know!”
Better still is the link on their web site which says:
“Click here to place an order now and receive your degree in 15 days!”
For a mere $1,249 you can have a PhD and be a doctor in a range of disciplines including Nursing and Medicine. If you’re feeling flush you can splash out an extra $1,000 and they’ll even throw in your thesis for you.


No, you shouldn’t be because you’re not a cheat and a liar, are you?

There are plenty of other fake universities out there that offer the same fake qualifications, the Wikipedia page on non-accredited universities lists over 200 of the them. But are there seriously any people in Botswana claiming to have such a qualification? Who knows?

If there are and you’re one of them I have a suggestion for you. If you told your employer that you have a degree from Ashwood University, Knightsbridge University, Belford University or any of the other fake establishments then sooner or later you’re going to be found out and fired. What’s more your employer would be perfectly entitled to call the cops and have you dragged away. The reason? You committed a fraud. You took something (your salary) on false pretences. You’re a crook and like all crooks the best thing you can do now is to go straight. Either keep quiet and take your chances, confess and see if you can negotiate some leniency from your boss or just resign quietly.

Do you really want your boss to learn that you lied to him or her when you were hired? Can your skills and experience get you off a charge of fraud?

Do you really want a colleague who doesn’t like you, or who wants your job to expose you?

I doubt it so just do the honourable thing before you get found out.

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