Tuesday, January 08, 2008

International Idiot University (IIU)

There's this article in the Beebs today, that involves a Malaysian running an Irish University. It's a scandal. As I cannot possibly write it better than them, I recommend that you give the original article a good read. If nothing else, it's worth a laugh. I would like to put in my dua sen though.

If an institution charges a group of people some money, gives them some coursework and awards them a certificate at the end (along with the necessary gown and ceremony), is anyone a victim? If this certificate results in better employment opportunities, is anyone a victim? What would you call this kind of institution?

When I look at this situation from an abstract point of view, I see a fairly disturbing scenario. In fact, this scenario can aptly describe what many people go through, these days. You go to an institution (let's say Cambridge), you pay them a good amount of money, do some work, and get a certificate at the end, which says that you were awarded a degree. With this degree, you manage to secure a good job.

Where are the victims?

As for the students of IIU, they paid money, and got something out of it. If they were looking for an accredited qualification, then, they should have looked just a little harder. The IIU is clearly listed as an unaccredited institution on Wikipedia. There really isn't an excuse for them to say that they had been cheated/conned. So, the students may be a bit daft, but they aren't victims per se.

Some people might argue that the employer had been cheated because the degree isn't legitimate. My argument is that, an employer hires a person, not a piece of paper. If the person has the necessary knowledge and skills, then, they were right for the job. So, no victim. If that person doesn't have them, then, the employer shouldn't have hired them in the first place. If the employer was hiring a piece of paper, then, they are victims of their own stupidity. So, the employer isn't a victim either.

Who should we hold accountable?

If we assume that someone was indeed victimised, who should be held accountable? I say that the only party responsible for this whole debacle is society. For some unfathomable reason (at least to me), there is a lot of value placed on a sheet of paper. It serves as a conduit for a person to gain higher social status only because society chooses to recognise it's value.

I've always felt that we should value a person for the person's skills and abilities, not their degree. For as long as we value their degree more than themselves, universities like the IIU will exist.

PS: As far as scams go, this one is fairly benign and can actually bring benefit to it's 'victim'. So, I'm not even sure if it can qualify as a scam.

*** image credit - the IIU ***


KC said...

Hey, I went to the website. Malaysia is the governing body?

KC said...


Shawn Tan said...

from the article, it's run by a malaysian.. but they like to cosy up to local politicians.. i guess that it lends them more credibility..

KC said...
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KC said...
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