|"Dr" Ho Kah Leong|
Former Singapore Senior Parliamentary Secretary and Member of Parliament "Dr" Ho Kah Leong (何家良"博士"), whose integrity I do not question (assuming that he did not pay for the doctorate, and was naive and duped), showed his lack of judgment by accepting and flaunting his Honorary Doctorate (PhD in Doctor of Philosophy in Arts) given in Aug 2001 by the Wisconsin International University (USA), a notorious degree mill. (source1, source2)
[For details on Wisconsin International University, see Wisconsin International University is a degree mill, admits its boss, John Buuck at the end of this post.]
[ed. Buxton University, possibly from Singapore, and Wisconsin International University are also on the list.]
(ed. Judging from the absence of any useful information in English on the AUH website, it is hard to believe that AUH is capable of fulfilling its claim of offering genuine American style liberal arts education.)
|"Dr" (bogus?) Frederick Toke, boss of Lee Community College, |
a Singapore diploma mill
[ed. misleading assertions by Fred Toke
AALE accredited AUH in Tbilisi in 2006, raising doubts among US academics about AALE's own credibility (here).
It appears that Lee Community College (LCC) sought, but has not gained, accreditation from AALE for its liberal arts program offered in conjunction with AUH. (here)
LCC had been awarding bachelor's degree in counselling psychology, using AUH's name, for years without any accreditation.
A degree in counselling psychology, being a professional degree, is not a liberal arts degree. AALE's accreditation, even if granted to LCC, would not cover such a professional degree anyway. ]
Clemen Chiang and others exposed
Straits Times, Aug 29, 2008 (source)
AT LEAST 218 people, mostly Singaporeans, are proudly flaunting degrees, MBAs and doctorates from a dozen degree mills, including Preston University, Wisconsin International University, Paramount University of Technology, Kennedy-Western University and Rochville University.
This was uncovered by Straits Times checks on the Internet and trade publications, to find out how widespread the use of bogus qualifications is here.
Most of them are males and predominantly businessmen, professional trainers, private school lecturers and financial consultants.
The majority have basic diplomas and in some cases, degrees from bona fide universities, but quote masters or PhDs from bogus institutions to bolster their credentials.
A few such as Expressions International founder Theresa Chew, who has a honorary doctorate from Kennedy-Western University, and Breadtalk founder Mr George Quek Meng Tong, who has an honorary business doctorate from the Wisconsin International University, add the words Honoris Causa (Latin for a token of respect or honour) on their namecards, to indicate that it is an honorary degree.
But worryingly, an increasingly long list of private school lecturers and financial consultants openly cite their bought doctorates and masters' degrees, in their curriculum vitae and client pitches.
A typical example is Be-Mad, a company at Scotts Road, that trains human resource professionals. Its chief executive officer 'Dr' David Ong Kah Seng and two of his associates, 'Dr' Ng Sin Keh and Mr Yeo Thiang Swee, have degrees from Rochville University, Preston University and Atlantic International University, which are all commonly referred to as diploma mills in the United States.
On its website, Be-Mad consultancy boasts that its long list of clients includes ministries, banks and educational institutions.
Yet another two successful businessmen with questionable qualifications are options trading expert 'Dr' Clemen Chiang, a Nanyang Technological University graduate, who runs courses through Freely Business School at North Bridge Road and 'Dr' T. Chandroo who runs a chain of 60 Montessori kindergartens here and abroad. Both of them have doctorates from Preston University, classified as a degree mill in the US.
Why do these successful businessmen who have demonstrated expertise in an area resort to using degrees from unaccredited institutions?
After all, resume detectives say such bogus degrees are a 'ticking time bomb', which may burnish your CV for now, but sooner or later blow up in your face.
The Straits Times put the question to 'Drs' Ong, Chiang and Chandroo.
Mr Ong claimed that his alma mater Rochville University was a reputed one and claimed to have worked on a thesis for 18 months on behavioural sciences.
Mr Chandroo's secretary said he was 'too busy' to answer e-mails or calls from The Straits Times over the past month.
Mr Chiang, known to be an astute entrepreneur who set up Freely Business School and is widely quoted in the local press on options trading, admits that he was 'not so smart' when he signed up for an online doctorate programme from Preston University a few years ago.
The NTU engineering graduate said he wanted to complete a PhD in extra quick time and found out about Preston University through the Internet. And because it was listed as a partner of a private school here licensed by the Education Ministry, he thought it was an accredited institution.
He suggested a thesis topic on options trading which was accepted by the university faculty in Wyoming, US. He researched the topic and submitted his thesis within 16 months and was granted a PhD. It cost him all of S$18,000 in fees.
It was only later that he realised that Preston was not accredited in the US.
Mr Chiang sheepishly admits that he continues to use his doctorate as it helps to pave the way in business. Besides, he reasons: 'I did write a thesis for it.'
But he added: 'But I am thinking of dropping my doctorate title altogether until I complete the current PhD I am working on with the University of South Australia.'
[ed. "Dr" Clemen Chiang is still using his bogus "Dr" to swindle the gullible with his options trading seminar, offered by the company "Results Plus International" in Bangkok, Thailand. (see above for details) ]
|"Dr" (bogus) George Quek Meng Tong, founder of Breadtalk|
When bakery chain BreadTalk's boss, Mr George Quek, was conferred an honorary business doctorate by the Wisconsin International University, he hosted a glitzy event at Shangri-La Hotel's Tower Ballroom.
'I did not do it to boast how clever I am, or because of a lack of education in the past which I'm hoping to make up for. 'I took it as a personal boost to encourage myself after all my hard work over the years, and to thank my friends for their support,' says the O-level holder in Mandarin.
(see More doctors in SME than in SMA below)
Apparently "Dr" George Quek Meng Tong is vain enough to still, in 2012, flaunt his bogus doctorate which he admits is an honorary (bought) Doctorate in Business Administration from the diploma mill Wisconsin International University, USA. (source)
|" Dr" (bogus?) T Chandroo, CEO Modern Montessori International (MMI)|
|"Dr" Theresa Chew, founder of wellness chain Expressions International|
The Straits Times, May 13, 2011 (source1, source2 in Chinese)
More doctors in SME than in SMA
Singaporeans with bogus degrees
Straits Times, Aug 8, 2008 (source)
A RETIRED secondary school teacher, two private school teachers, an IT manager, and two businessmen were among 36 names from Singapore on a list of people exposed in the United States for buying fake diplomas and degrees.
The 9,612 names were taken from computers seized as part of Operation Gold Seal (details here and here), a US Federal case that led to eight people pleading guilty to conspiracy to sell fake degrees from St Regis University and other fictional colleges based in rural Washington state.
The husband and wife ringleaders, Steven and Dixie Ellen Randock, have been sentenced to three years in prison.
|Steven and Dixie Ellen Randock|
The Spokane, Washington-based newspaper, The Spokesman Review, ran the full list of names on its website on July 28. Buyers had paid the degree mill US$250 to US$5,400 (S$350 to S$7,500) for bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as doctorates.
The full report, which stated names, the degrees bought, and in some cases, the names of the fictional universities, can be found at (ed. dead link) http://www.spokesmanreview.com/data/diploma-mill/
The following are some degree mill customers from Singapore (source):
(Probable surnames, when not placed in their customary order, are underlined; many bogus degree seekers don't know their first names from their last.)
mentioned in this news report (see below):
*Ferguson, Joe K Singapore BA St. Lourdes University
-- Ferguson, Joseph Kent Singapore MA St. Lourdes University
*Khoon, Tan Tee [Tan Tee Khoon] Singapore MDiv
*David, Tan Leng Huat Singapore BBA
*Samuel, David Nelson Singapore BA
*Lan, Adelene Cheong Siew Singapore ProfFull (Full professorship)
*Chai, Cheng Sheng Singapore ProfFull (Full Professor) InTech University of Engineering & Science
*Meng, Tee Wee Singapore PhD
*Ramasamy, Ra Arjunan Singapore PhD St. Regis University
*Duquesne, StéPhane Pierre Singapore PhD
-- Duquesne, Stephane Pierre Marcel Singapore PhD
*Keong, See Soon (Raymond) Singapore PhD
[Raymond See Soon Keong is the boss of Omega International College, formerly named Omega Commercial School, 108 Middle Rd #03-01/02 and Blk 134, Jurong East St 13 #03-309L/309M, Singapore. The school's website is unsafe to visit, containing malicious software. Some information is available here.]
*Gwee, Jeremy Singapore PhD
*Thiam, Yeo Chin Singapore PhD
*Tan, Jonathan Singapore PhD
*Wende, Clarence Du Singapore DBA
*Oh, Patrick Boon Sai Singapore MA
-- Patrick Oh Boon Sai Singapore MA
*Seng, Lee Boon Singapore MA
*Ramachandran, Appaswamy Singapore MBA
*Wai, Kwok Yau Singapore MBA
*Ng, Kwee Huat Singapore BBA
*Kok, Yau Wia Singapore BBA
*Kiong, Goh Seng Singapore BBA
*Huat, Ng Kwee Singapore BBA
*Poh, Andrew Tan Thian Singapore BBA Northwest United University
^Wong, Janice W Singapore BBA Northwest United University
*Lee, Wai Khuen Singapore BS
*Ismail, Hady Ruthman Singapore BS
*Ching, Janet Tan Joon Singapore BS
*Khuen, Lee Wai Singapore BS
*Annamalai, Singaravelu Singapore BS InTech University of Engineering & Science
*Kunju Hanifa, Sulikha Singapore BS InTech University of Engineering & Science
*Fong , Christopher Kong Onn Singapore BA Bradford College
*Samuel, Iris Regina Singapore BA
*Christopher, Fong Kong Onn Singapore BA
*Chow, Jaz Singapore BA
*Hun, Teo Wee Singapore BA
The following are among the defunct operations run by the St. Regis operators:
- Al Qasim University (Pakistan)
- All Saints American University (Liberia)
- American Capital University
- Americana University
- Bangalore Inst of Science, Tech. and Mgt (India)
- Capital American University (Liberia)
- Center College of Executive & Professional Development (India)
- Colony University (Liberia)
- Hampton Bay University
- Hartland University
- InTech University (Liberia)
- James Monroe University (Liberia, operated from Washington, Idaho and Arizona)
- Miranda International University (Tennessee, Washington, and Seborga, Italy)
- Nation State University
- New Manhattan University
- North United University
- Panama Canal University
- Port Rhode University
- Robertstown University (Liberia, operated from Washington state, Idaho and Arizona)
- St. Lourdes University
- St. Regis University
- St. Renoir University
- St. Thomas Institute (India)
- Stanley State University
- Synergystics (ODA notes it "may" be connected)
- University College for Advanced Studies (India)
- Van Ives University
- West Coast University (Panama, Western Australia, UK)
The fake schools created by Steven and Dixie Ellen Randock included Saint Regis University, James Monroe University, Robertstown University, Holy Acclaim University, Ameritech University, Fort Young University, Pan America University, All Saints American University, American Capital University, Blackstone University, Capital America University, Hampton Bay University, Hartland University, Intech University, Nation State University, New Manhattan University and Graduate Institute, North United University, Port Rhode University, St. Lourdes University, Saint Renoir University, Stanley State Graduate University, Van Ives University, West American University, International MBA Institute, Apollo Certification Institute, James Monroe High School, Liberty Academy Preparatory High School, Trinity Christian High School, Mission College Preparatory High School, and Bradford Academy College Preparatory High School. However, the conspirators also sold counterfeit diplomas and academic products purporting to be from legitimate academic institutions, such as the University of Maryland, George Washington University, Missouri University, and Texas A&M University.
- The following is the "accreditation mill" run by the Saint Regis University operators: Distance Education Council
The Straits Times contacted more than a dozen of those on the list and confirmed that six had bought the degrees. Four of the six had listed the degrees in their resumes.
Two admitted they had degrees from the listed universities but claimed they were unaware that these were degree mills.
The Education Ministry said it will investigate the case of the teacher to establish if any offence has been committed. But it said preliminary checks show that the teacher, who was recruited as a non-graduate teacher, had not used the 'degree' in question for placement.
MOE said the teacher is currently re-employed as a non-graduate contract adjunct teacher.
Businessman David Tan Leng Huat said he had merely enquired about a degree from St Regis University but had not paid anything.
Private school teacher David Nelson Samuel said he paid more than S$4,000 for a BA from St Regis University, but only found out later that it was unrecognised.
Dr Tan Tee Khoon, a Christian author and head of Knight Frank Property Network, said he is not the Tan Tee Khoon named for having bought a Master's in Divinity.
Dr Tan, who has a PhD in marketing from Templeton University, New York, said he was 'aggrieved' when he heard someone with his name was on the list.
(More on Tan Tee Khoon below)
A Mr Joseph Ferguson was listed as a trainer at the Asian Life Skills Centre at North Bridge Road which runs courses for English Language teachers. His credentials include a BA (Business) and MA (Education) from St Lourdes University, one of the exposed degree mills.
But the centre's managing director Joseph Chee said the American had left the centre last year and expressed surprise at his fake credentials.
Joseph Ferguson is a lecturer at STI Education, a private teacher training school in Yangon, Myanmar.
Ferguson has been teaching both ESL (English as a Second Language) and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) for some 5 years in Singapore. His classes have included basic English Lessons (Speaking, Reading, Writing, Listening), IELTS and TOEFL preparation courses, grammar refreshment courses and private tuition for primary and secondary students. His students have come from all over Asia, Russia and even Egypt. (source1, source2)
Joseph Ferguson (Apr 2008?) on a jobs website (source)
Experienced ESL teacher and ESL teacher trainer, looking for work in Taiwan.
I am an American currently living in Singapore. I've been to Taiwan several times and have fallen in love with the culture there.
Joe Ferguson Blk 150 Hougang Str 11, #04-156 Singapore 530150
2005 - Present, Master Trainer, Asian Life Skills
It is my responsibility to make sure the students are prepared to teach English upon completion of the course, as well as to make sure the other trainers/lecturers are providing the correct information. I also travel around Asia to conduct seminars and workshops with other English teachers to help upgrade their skills.
2007 - Present, Private English Tutor, JoinUs Language Center
It is my duties to help both Singaporean and Foreign students to work with the English language. Often times, preparing them for exams. I prepare my own materials for students, as well and individualize each lesson.
2007 - Present TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Teacher Trainer, The Teacher Trainer College
I work part time as a TESOL trainer. It is my responsibility to prepare students for their role as an ESL teacher.
2007 - Present Private English Tutor, Interlang
I work part time with this company giving private tuition to Foreign students. The students are adult business men and women. I prepare my own materials for students, as well and individualize each lesson.
2003 - 2005 English Teacher, Handbridge Language School (Singapore)
As an English Teacher, it is my responsibility to make sure that the students get an exceptional education. It is my task to create the lesson plans and produce interesting and exciting lessons that instill the skills they need to survive in an English speaking environment.
2001 - 2003 English Teacher, Dimensions Language Centre (Singapore)
Working as an English teacher with Dimensions, I performed the same duties as I performed with Handbridge Language School
1989 High School Diploma, Nauvoo-Colusa Jr.-Sr. High School (in Nauvoo, Illinois)
1999 Bachelor of Arts in Business, Saint Lourdes University
2001 Master of Arts in Education, Saint Lourdes University
2001 Certificate in TESOL
In 1988, I entered and won a medal in the Illinois State Congressional Art Competition. In 1995, I was recognized by the South Dakota Travel Board for outstanding guest service. In 1999, I received a Certificate of Achievement in Internet Proficiency through Gateway.
|Dr Tan Tee Khoon|
Dr Tan Tee Khoon, a Christian author and head of Knight Frank Property Network, said he is not the Tan Tee Khoon named for having bought a Master's in Divinity.
Dr Tan, who has a PhD in marketing from Templeton University, New York, said he was 'aggrieved' when he heard someone with his name was on the list.
[ed. Templeton University, Middletown, New York is a shadowy outfit (with only a phone number and not even a PO Box), and certainly not a bona fide university. (Another diploma mill, Cranston University, also has a phone number in Middletown, New York. Is this a coindence? )
Templeton University, Singapore and Las Vegas, NV (Nevada), is a diploma mill, according to Oregon's Office of Degree Authorisation (ODA) [see above].
Tan Tee Khoon's PhD, whichever Templeton University it came from, certainly lacks any credibility.
"Dr" Tan is also a preacher of Agape Methodist Church and a Christian author, with a doctorate of ministry from a degree mill, Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana [see below].
We might therefore reasonably assume that, contrary to his denial, he had bought a bogus MDiv as well. ]
|"Dr" Tan Tee Khoon|
Dr Tan Tee Khoon was General Secretary and Associate General Secretary of the Fellowship of Evangelical Students from 2004 to 2011. He is now Managing Director of a subsidiary of an international real estate firm based in Singapore.
Dr Tan first graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Building from the National University of Singapore in 1990. An alumnus of Oxford (ed. Oxford University? Oxford Business and Language School, Singapore?), he pursued (and obtained, I presume) a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pulpit Communication and Expository Preaching with Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana (a degree mill, unaccredited distance learning school), a program then validated by the University of Liverpool in 2002. He has also studied law and marketing with the University of London and state-approved International American University in Los Angeles.
The youngest Local Preacher licensed by the Methodist Church in Singapore at the age of 19, Dr Tan has since enjoyed a regional preaching ministry in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines.
He is the author of 4 books, the most widely received being Living For His Majesty's Pleasure (2008), and the others being The Christ Difference (Jan 2012), The Pleasure of His Will (2007), Give as He Pleases (2007).
Singapore's Brookes Business School offered fake Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) degrees
The Age (australia), June 18, 2009 (source)
Singapore, July 14, 2009 (source)
Singapore's Education Ministry (MOE) has cancelled the registration of a private school that has been investigated for offering fake degrees from a well-known Australian university.
It is the first case this year of a school being stripped of its registration by the ministry.
MOE said this follows investigations by the secretariat of the pro-tem Council for Private Education (CPE) on Brookes Business School for contraventions of the Education Act.
The school has been accused by its students of peddling fake degrees from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) for as little as S$12,000.
MOE told Channel NewsAsia some 400 local and overseas students are affected by the closure. Some have already paid more than S$10,000 in deposits.
Most of the students whom Channel NewsAsia spoke to refused to appear on camera, but several of them said they already had doubts over the school's credibility.
Jonathan Ong, student at Brookes Business School, said: "I'm not surprised. Ever since I signed up with this school, there've been a lot of changes to their policies and the programme structures."
This is despite the fact that the school was registered with MOE and had Casetrust accreditation from the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).
Casetrust-endorsed schools receive certification for having good student welfare/protection practices and standards, such as clear fee policies, well-defined student redress practices and systems, a declared commitment to quality, and well-trained personnel.
According to CASE's website, the certification does not represent endorsement or accreditation of the quality of the courses offered.
Thevanathan Pillay, assistant director, CASE, said: "For those students who have completed their course and feel they've been given a fake certificate, they should actually go to court and sue the business."
MOE said the secretariat of the pro-tem CPE is working with various agencies and private education industry players to put in place measures to ensure that affected students have other avenues to complete their studies.
Students may approach the Association of Private Schools and Colleges (APSC) to be placed in another private education institution. For this purpose, students should be prepared to show proof that they are currently enrolled students of Brookes Business School.
Both Singaporeans and foreigners found out while applying for government passes
The Straits Times (Singapore)
9 August 2008 (source)
MOM did not give a breakdown but the majority are believed to have used fake or forged qualifications in applying for employment passes which are for highly qualified people, or S-Passes for semi-skilled workers.
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority figures also point to a rising trend of workers using qualifications from degree mills, which are bogus universities that sell degrees for little or no study.
In the last two years, ICA caught 660 people, both foreigners and locals, lying in applications for immigration passes.
It could not give a breakdown but said many lied about their qualifications while trying to secure a dependent's pass, student visa or permanent resident pass.
Some of the locals caught had lied in the applications to be sponsors for foreigners seeking various immigration passes.
Both MOM and ICA said making false statements in the applications for work or immigration passes is a serious offence which carries heavy penalties, including fines and jail. Foreigners caught are also likely to be repatriated.
The ICA and MOM figures are just the tip of the iceberg, say job recruiters like People Worldwide Consulting and resume-screening companies such as IntegraScreen and First Advantage.
While most of those found out so far are foreigners, experts warn that more Singaporeans are also beefing up their resumes with fake or forged degrees.
One indication: The names of 36 people from Singapore showed up on a list of 9,612 people exposed in the United States recently for having bought fake diplomas and degrees.
First Advantage, a US-based company which checks claims made by job applicants, estimates that 12 per cent to 16 per cent of job seekers here are not entirely truthful in their CVs. Often, they inflate their academic achievements, current pay or responsibilities.
IntegraScreen, which does screening work for the immigration authorities in several countries in Asia and the Middle East, said about 5 per cent of the resumes they screen are found to be fake.
Its managing director, Mr John Baxter, said: 'The use of diploma mills is exploding as the Internet makes buying bogus degrees easier than ever before. More workers are buying these degrees because they're looking for an edge in the competitive job market in Singapore.'
Almost any degree, from aviation to zoology, can be purchased. All it takes is a credit card number and computer access.
Most degree mills charge between US$50 and US$5,000 (S$69 to S$6,900) for degrees at all levels. Often, buyers only have to fill up a form stating their work and life experiences and pay up.
Within a week, they are sent a professional-looking degree scroll and transcripts of fictional grades to show potential employers.
For an additional US$60, some degree mills offer laminated student identity cards, even though they have no physical campus.
Some even provide an after-sales service, with phone operators who will verify graduations and send transcripts to prospective employers who check.
Some go to the extent of offering fake degrees that look similar to those from such established universities as Harvard, Arizona State University or the University of Minnesota. Using high-tech equipment, the diplomas include watermarks and holographs.
The number of degree mills is not known, but Integra has compiled a list of over 500, with 90 per cent based in the US.
Mr John Bear, co-author of a book on degree mills, estimates that annual sales in fake degrees exceed US$500 million.
In Singapore, job recruiters say there are three groups of people who resort to using bogus degrees.
The first includes those who pay up to US$500 for undergraduate degrees and transcripts. These are non-graduates who use the fake qualifications to score a job, promotion or pay rise.
The second are consultants, trainers and private school lecturers who may have a first degree and some expertise in a particular area, but feel having a master's or PhD bolsters their credentials.
They are willing to pay between US$1,599 and US$10,000 for their bogus degrees.
The third group is made up of successful businessmen who fork out up to S$20,000 for honorary PhDs. They take care to indicate that these are honorary degrees, but like to be called 'Doctor'.
Mr David Leong, who heads PeopleWorldwide Consulting, said most people who buy their degrees are not victims, but intend to hoodwink employers or business clients.
'People who go online and order themselves a master's degree or PhD within a week know full well what they are doing,' he said.
Dennis Lee, Singapore's "Internet visionary", is creative with his résumé
May 29, 2001 (source)
Malaysian degree mills
New Straits Times, July 27, 2012 (source)
Tun Hisan said the two suspects, who operated from an office in USJ 10, were believed to have raked in about RM5 million by selling fake academic scrolls since 2003.
"The company used agents and online advertising to sell the fake documents.
Wisconsin International University is a degree mill, admits its boss, John Buuck
|by Vancouver Sun|
|Sunday, 08 October 2006 (source)|
While under investigation, Kingston College charges students an extra $3,180 to transfer credits to a U.S. school that lacks government accreditation
A large private Canadian college, under investigation for offering degrees from an unaccredited British university, was also associating itself with an American organization that claims to have campuses in Estonia, Ghana and the Ukraine.
But the U.S. organization, which goes by the prestigious-sounding name of Wisconsin International University, doesn't have a campus in North America and says its degrees, for which students pay tens of thousands of dollars through Vancouver-based Kingston College, may not be accepted by other universities or employers.
Kingston, which is part of a Canadian education enterprise called Kingston Education Group, is under investigation by B.C.'s Private Career Training Institutions Agency, which cancelled the college's registration last week. That was in the wake of complaints from a number of students from India who said they had not received degrees the college was offering from the "American University in London."
AUL, it turns out, is not an accredited university and in January was fined 10,000 pounds sterling ($21,065 Cdn) by a London Magistrates' Court for misleading students. The B.C. government had told Kingston for at least the last five years not to be associated with AUL.
Late last week, Kingston's president, Michael Lo, a staunch supporter of the B.C. Liberal Party, was removed from the PCTIA board by Advanced Education Minister Murray Coell. Lo also resigned as an adviser on Premier Gordon Campbell's influential Chinese Community Advisory Committee, and as a party organizer for the Liberals.
Kingston is telling students who paid $15,000 for a two-year business degree to send up to $3,180 more for registration and "graduation" fees, in order to have their studies count at Wisconsin International.
One of those students is V [name removed at request of the student], a student from India who was told as recently as Oct. 3 to send the college $3,180 if he wanted his science degree. V said he completed studies in June 2005 and was supposed to get his degree from American University in London.
When he repeatedly complained he had not received the degree, the college told him by e-mail that AUL was "undergoing reorganization" and that if he wanted a degree he could register with WIU.
At first Kingston told him the transfer was free, but later insisted he would have to pay "double registration fee" of $636, a "credit transfer fee" of $1,272, and a "final graduation fee" of $1,272. The Kingston employee who wrote the email demanding the money identified herself as Janet Hu and said that most of Kingston's students were applying to WIU.
But a check of Wisconsin International University by The Vancouver Sun shows it is nothing more than a home office in Bonita Springs, Fla., of John Buuck, a self-styled university president who candidly admitted that his degrees aren't worth much to Kingston students.
Buuck told The Sun, Wisconsin International has campuses in Ghana, Estonia and the Ukraine but not in the United States. He also has students in China affiliated with another organization. He said the university is accredited through a private Arkansas company, Accrediting Commission International, which accredits a number of private colleges and universities.
Buuck said Kingston gives him $300 for every bachelor's degree, and $400 for every master's degree "for the trouble" Wisconsin has to go through to "make sure their credits and transcripts are legitimate and they've taken the proper courses."
But because Accrediting Commission International isn't a government agency such as the ones that accredit major U.S. institutions, degrees granted by its members may not be accepted by other universities or employers, he said.
"Kingston is supposed to make it very clear to the students that we do not have a campus in the United States, their degree may not be acceptable by another university, and it may not be acceptable by an employer," he said.
There was no such warning in the email correspondence V provided to The Vancouver Sun, and he said he was never told any degree he might get from WIU would be virtually worthless.
Anna Burke, Kingston's dean of admissions, refused to discuss the college's activities.
PCTIA registrar Jim Wright, who is conducting the investigation, said he didn't know about Wisconsin University International and said that students who have been offered degrees there should contact him.
V said in a telephone interview he decided not to apply to Wisconsin, and he's angry that his degree appears to count for so little.
"So really, this paper is worthless," he said. "That's very wrong."
V, who is now working in the United States, said he spent $15,000 on the degree and his parents used their savings for his living expenses.