Saturday, August 31, 2013


By Mansor Puteh

Not enough by being sidelined by the public or state universities, the private universities annoy the academic circle further by offering degrees to students who come to them to get education without ever having to attend class sometimes; and worse, prominent international personalities too become their target for them to benefit from.

And one can bet that local personalities where the private universities are at are not their target; they only target international personalities who they think they can use their names and reputation.

The reason being the local personalities do not have the pull; they cannot trust the universities further.

These private universities are normally operated as a private company, which do not have an official senate who can decide who that they can offer their honorary doctorates or other academic recognition.

The decision rests on the charity of the owner of the university and nobody else.

At prestigious universities in America or England, the vice-chancellor or president of the universities do not pose with the recipients of the awards, but at the small private universities, the owners are the ones who want to be featured with the recipients of the awards they gave. 

So no wonder they are some who like to describe some of the small private universities as ‘degree mills’. Now some of them are ‘honorary doctorates mills’, too.

It is not a surprise how some private universities can get a lot of cheap publicity by offering honorary doctorates and other semi-academic recognition to personalities who are prominent in the world, despite some of them who cannot be said to be interesting.

Why do these universities like to do so?

Simple: They want to get cheap publicity by offering a scroll which they make sure they frame and invite the persons to their campus and make a big deal about the recognition they are offering.

And they would then put out full-page advertisements to personally pat themselves on their backs.

They are the real winners, and the recipients are the ones who should know that they are the real losers; that they did not know what was happening and what the universities had tried to do, which is no more than to make use of them for their own benefit and self-promotion.

The most unusual part is how those who had been given the honorary doctorates or other recognition have never been given the opportunity to speak in the functions.

And no other university in the country they are at, is invited to attend the functions.

It seems this may be just an extension to the ploy by some other internet universities that offer university degrees for a small fee.

These universities exist in cyberspace and that those who ‘graduate’ from them do not attend any formal commencement ceremony; they get their scrolls and also graduation gowns for a fee, and they pose in front of stacks of books all lined on a wall, in the form of a photo.

And those who have got a degree this way, will go on to get a few more. Yet they do not get invitation to teach at any university or to speak in forums.

Some are company directors of cake houses or confectionaries.

Yet, those who are given the honorary doctorates did not seem to care which university or what type of university that has given them those recognition.

How come the public or state universities do not offer similar recognition on the same individuals, if indeed they were deserving to get them?

Public universities are more genuine in that their campuses are formal and they have all the facilities including a stadium and large halls and student activities, whereas the small private universities exist on the fringe of the education system in the country.

They only have classrooms and a teaching staff comprising of people who are not generally recognized by their peers.

Worse, these private universities do not give their students a life on campus as their only place to go to for recreation is their canteen. They do not have a stadium or hall that can accommodate the students’ sporting or cultural interests.

In the end some of their students also do not attend class; they loiter around and still get their degrees, with a small number who are involved in illegal activities including drug pushing, and internet-cheating.

Of course there is a small number of the students in the private universities who excel, but they often do it on their own accord and not because the university took them there, and their successes could take them another step further so that they could further their education at formal universities abroad especially in America and England.

Those universities too did not bother to check which universities they had given places to the students, to determine if they had given places to the right persons or not.

Some of these universities only wanted the business they can get from the students.

Who gave the private universities the right to confer academic recognition in the form of honorary doctorates to the individuals who have already created a name for themselves?

And why were they given those recognition in the first place? Was it for the university to use them?

Those who accepted the recognition did not seem to care.

On the other hand, they are the ones who should have shown caution by not accepting the recognition because the universities are not well-known and it does not mean much for them to receive the recognition from the universities that the universities in their own countries had not bothered to offer them.

Worse, is when the same universities are the ones who keep offering honorary doctorates all the time.

They give anyone who they think they can benefit or con from.

It is not often that a recognized and prominent or prestigious university in America or England which offer similar recognition to anyone; those who have got them, are truly deserving.

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