Note: Follow this link to read the first post in this two-part series.
Some advice to my foreign higher education colleagues: don’t trust any of the come-ons or be seduced by the slick lines in (sometimes) passable English that arrive in your inboxes on a regular basis. Do your homework, check references, and find out who’s really behind the keyboard on the other side of the world. Due diligence now will save you time, money and frustration later.
There is an encouraging trend of rising consumer expectations. More and more parents and students are becoming educated consumers. This means that there is both official (i.e., government) and grassroots (i.e., consumer) pressure for companies to become better than they are. Competition and effective official oversight will take care of the rest.
Educational Credentials: Why Earn One When You Can Buy It?
At the extreme end of the dishonesty and cheating continuum are companies that simply and shamelessly sell educational credentials, local and international, from diplomas and transcripts to language exam certificates. Whatever you want or need, the black market has. One of the reasons that a sizable contingent of netizens visit my blog, An International Educator in Vietnam, is not to find useful information or enlightenment; they’re in the hunt for a fake academic degree. How do I know this? Because I often see search engine terms such as “buying phd overseas,” “harvard university diplomas for sale,” “buying an accredited degree,” and, for those ambitious cheats who are in a real hurry, “email instant doctorate degree.”
One enterprising yet misguided individual set up a company called Realdegree Company, a dictionary definition of oxymoronic, with ties to Ho Chi Minh City (i.e., website registration) and British Columbia, Canada. You can buy an associate’s degree for $599 or a bachelor’s degree for $899, including a 25% discount! Choices included quite a hodgepodge of institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the “University of Phonix,” Troy University, UCLA, Stanford, and “Kenstate University,” among many others. One of my observations in a related blog post was Just pray your current or prospective employer doesn’t check on the authenticity of your spanking new – and very fake – sheepskin. Degree verification services, anyone?
Six years ago, the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training required all Vietnamese foreign degree holders to have their diplomas recognized by the Bureau of Testing and Education Quality Assurance in order to pursue further education in Vietnam through Decision 77. A recent amendment called “Circular 26,” requires foreign degree holders to submit other evidence of overseas study. A year ago this month, Decree 73, which regulates foreign partnerships and cross-border programs, was approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and implemented.
In recent years, the Vietnamese government, through the Ministry of Education and Training, has made considerable progress in addressing the havoc wrought by the unholy trinity of unscrupulous education agents, foreign rogue providers (i.e., unaccredited schools) and the sale of fake educational credentials. The long-term challenge will be enforcement of new rules and regulations. As John Ditty, chairman of KPG in Vietnam and Cambodia, noted somewhat understatedly at a recent presentation for business leaders in Hanoi, “Fraud in Vietnam presents an imminent danger not to be neglected.”