Payap University where I am advisor to the president is a plaintiff in a legal action to have our name removed from the website of a university here in Thailand. We are listed as a co-host for a non-existent degree program in peace. We do have a PhD in peace-building, but not this program and not with them. Two prominent names are mentioned as administrators of the bogus program. One of them has nothing to do with it. The other one is overseas and can’t be reached. In fact, it turns out the entire university described on their website does not exist. The Commission on Higher Education of the Ministry of Education is taking action.
One of our emeritus deans is a defendant in a law suit brought by the Thai promoter of another spurious program offering theological degrees “based on life experience” and no course work or paper work. The degrees are being sold (for 50 or 100 thousand baht, I understand) and a few gullible pastors have forked over the money and actually had a very photogenic degree-granting ceremony in which they received the pieces of paper and fancy robes declaring they are now “honorary doctors of divinity”. When the pastors began to demand salary increases and changes in their titles our emeritus dean (and I) clicked on the website for the California-based “church” and read that for about $25 (750 baht) anyone could purchase documents declaring one’s ordination, doctoral status, or the establishment of a tax-exempt church, together with parking stickers entitling one to park in clergy spaces. The California church was very open-minded. Any theological opinion at all was fine with them. Getting special mention, just so we would be sure, were New Age, Wiccan (witchcraft) and atheist. Our colleague is being sued for defaming the character of the Thai promoter by quoting from this website in a major Thai church publication.
Not long ago a large university not far from Bangkok was closed for providing academic degrees in unaccredited programs and without requiring students to attend classes or take examinations. To avoid prison, the administrators had to return all the students’ tuition and fees and the students had to start over and actually work for their degrees in legitimate universities.
An applicant for an administrative position a few years ago was my introduction to academic fraud. He came with credentials from a well-known university in New York State. He had, by his own testimony, a remarkable track record in student recruitment, which was attractive to us. The president asked me to check his records. It was almost impossible to get anyone in New York to cooperate, but I finally managed to get a registrar to look at scanned copies of the guy’s transcript and diploma. The registrar cautiously responded that “we have no one in this office who can testify those records were issued by us,” and, most helpfully, “The diploma is not in the form our university uses.” The fellow chose not to argue and left within minutes.
Now, my point is this: I have heard that one or two of our gay ex-patriot colleagues with Thai partners are flirting with the idea of applying for jobs in teaching English, believing that nobody checks credentials or cares. That is not true. Others are frustrated that getting a visa based on a teaching job is hard because of all the paper that’s required. My response is that protecting the credibility of our educational system is important.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.