By LIM MUN FAH
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!