• May 29th, 2020

Self-deception through fake PhDs – a cocktail for disaster

Professor Jairos Kangira

The demand for doctoral degrees has risen to unprecedented levels for various reasons the world over, leading to ordinary, well-known and high-profile people being entangled in the fake PhDs web. 

Irrationally on their part, but not surprisingly, the holders of these phony PhDs take pride in them, and insist that people address them as ‘Doctor So-and-So’, or ‘Professor So-and-So’, further revealing that they take pride in self-deception, that is, fooling themselves and the community that they are well-read in their ‘fields’ of specialisations. 

The worst thing is that there are bogus institutions that are complicit in what has been infamously dubbed the fake degree mills – mills that scandalously churn out these fake qualifications, not mills that produce mahangu flour, maize flour and other ground stuff for human and animal consumption. 

These fake degree mills  are feeding a billion-dollar industry that is hungry for qualifications of all sorts the world over – fields such as engineering, education, nursing, medicine, computing, media, science – to mention only a few – have been invaded by holders of fake PhDs and other degrees. 

The painful result is that the public is put at risk - it is a cocktail for disaster. The public is served by unqualified personnel who are best described as impostors who masquerade as professionals and yet they are not - they never entered the gates of an institution of higher education or the entrances of lecture halls. 

Imagine being given a medical prescription by a ‘doctor’ with a vanity degree in medicine, or receiving lessons from a teacher with a forged teaching degree or diploma. Instead of being shameful of possessing illegal degrees, some of these fraudsters or charlatans even boast about their ‘achievements’. 

One wonders what will be going on in their mental faculties. It is disturbing to note that in some countries in Africa it has become fashionable to receive vanity PhDs sometimes without soliciting for them since some dubious institutions approach individuals with the offer of these qualifications at a certain fee.  

The whole fake PhD degree saga also directly or indirectly affects the fields of genuine professionals. One thing that is frustrating and unfair is that an earned PhD takes at least three years of hard work to complete, yet bogus institutions can manufacture the vanity degrees within the shortest period of time, depending on the clients’ needs and bank accounts. Believe or not, it is your mula that counts, and not someone’s brains. 

Some of these bogus higher education institutions invite candidates to pay for a three-day workshop where they are awarded fake PhD degrees.  The arduous but fulfilling process of research, analysis, synthesis of data, and the back-and-forth writing process, and feedback of the thesis between the student and supervisors are skipped by the impostors who rip where they have not sown. 

Those who have earnestly earned their PhDs will agree with me that it is not an easy walk in the park. One has to put a lot of energy and concentration in order to successfully complete a doctoral degree or any other qualification worth its salt, for that matter. One has to come up with something novel as a contribution to knowledge in the field of study, and ideas that offer solutions to some of the challenges in society. 

It requires the candidate to use critical thinking skills in order to proffer an in-depth analysis and interpretation of the research problem in a scholarly manner.  But what we witness instead in the fake PhD saga is the short-circuiting of the normal process and when this happens there is disaster for society.

Namibia, like any other country in the world, faces the problem of fake qualifications. As an example, in March 2018, a local daily paper reported that Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) had unearthed 300 cases of fake qualifications dating back to 2015. 

This is a staggering figure that is a cause of concern in the society. Commenting on fake qualifications and bogus institutions in Namibia, NQA Chief Executive Franz Gerte confirmed that there are bogus institutions in the country, whose main objective is financial gain. “Some of these institutions lower their entry requirements to attract students and they normally do not advertise openly. Students and parents should take great care before enrolling with these bogus institutions, especially this time of the year,” said Gertze, adding that NQA offers free advice to everyone in need of that service in Namibia.

Gerte described three scenarios in relation to fake qualifications. “First, we have institutions which have not been accredited and whose qualifications have not been registered. Second, there are accredited institutions with few registered qualifications. In this category, the institutions offer many more courses that have not been registered. The third category comprises international, online institutions which often vanish after registering students,” explained Gertze adding that it is difficult to state exactly how many fake PhDs and other qualifications there are in Namibia.

The public can visit the NQA website www.nqa.org for more information regarding the services NQA offers free of charge.
* Professor Jairos Kangira is the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social sciences at the University of Namibia. His views are not neccesarily those of his employer. Email address:kjairos@gmail.com

New Era Reporter
2019-01-30 10:12:16 | 1 years ago

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