Forged academic degrees scandal
Few are those who were not angry or ashamed towards what I mentioned in a previous column about the ethical scandal related to the forged academic degrees. The scandal of academic degrees at all levels is not new, as thousands had received jobs in the military and other jobs while only having a middle school certificate as their highest academic qualification. Many were promoted with a forged high school degree, and forgery also hit BA, Master’s and PhD degrees, particularly in the education and training sectors.
I learnt about the problem like others in the 1960s, when we used to see those who never left Kuwait and were not known for their genius receiving PhD degrees, especially from Egypt, including a former undersecretary and some educators along with others who did not harm anyone because they worked in the private sector.
We all remember, until recently, that some ‘dignitaries’ and MPs meeting with senior state officials, and taking pictures with them on the occasion of receiving postgraduate degrees. Most of them did know how to pronounce the name of the university from which they bought the degree! We, of course, cannot forget the scandal that was uncovered by the New York Times in May 2015, which I previously wrote about, involving a Pakistani company convicted for selling thousands of university degrees including Master’s and PhDs in the name of prestigious American universities and has stamp approvals of university presidents and officials, including the US Secretary of State John Kerry. The company gained huge amounts of money out of that; especially from nationals in Africa, Asia, and the Arabian Gulf in particular, and the names of many of them were published then. However, I do not remember that the education ministry made a move towards that.
It was nice for the National Assembly to ask for the education and higher education minister to hold all those proven to forge their certificates to account; but we all know that proving such charges is a highly complicated process and requires a very long time to accomplish. This is enough for all to forget the issue after being pre-occupied with other scandals. The matter may end with the conviction of several persons, and strict action will be taken against them.
The issue is really complicated, as in addition to the high numbers, and having names of ‘dignitaries’ in sensitive posts, there are those who studied and received their degrees, but from unrecognized universities, that apart from those who received their degrees from known universities, but those were forged, besides those who received them from nonexistent universities to start with.
A trusted friend of mine told me that our embassy in Washington proposed to the ministry of education to withdraw some students from non-recognized American universities and make them join better universities and extend their scholarships to makeup for the lost period. Because of the harm the country will receive in the future, the students remain in such bad universities, yet the education ministry rejected the interference of the foreign ministry in educational matters. The number of those students was few at the time, but staying silent multiplied the number much further. Finally, it is ironic that Kuwait is the only country around the world that has a society for PhD forgers, which was formed to lobby the government into recognizing their certificates.