Friday, September 02, 2005

Stricter Controls on E-Learning?

The Star has reported that new guidelines will be formulated to regulate e-learning programmes to ensure Malaysia’s reputation as a centre of education is not tarnished. This has probably come about with the increasing number of "institutions" offering higher education qualifications through e-learning, which are either bogus or non-existent.

Our Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow (I must unfortunately admit that til today, I was ignorant that Datuk Fu Ah Kiow was the deputy Minister of Higher Education - how silent he must have been!) said that:
“There are no shortcuts for quality control, branding and providing perfect service except for the commitment from the providers. This is important if we are to make Malaysia an education centre of excellence. That is why the ministry is in the process of drawing up specific guidelines and procedures on e-learning and distance learning programmes."
He further claims that the Ministry imposes strict guidelines on private institutions that want to provide distance learning programmes, including getting the approval of the National Accreditation Board. The question then, that must be asked is how did bogus institutions like Irish International University and Cambridgeshire University receive their accredition from the National Accredition Board if the guidelines were so "strict"?

It is commendable that the Ministry is seeking to review its guidelines. However, in the meantime, what is it doing about cases which have been revealed (see blog post here and here).

"Cambridgeshire University" has since revised its name to "Cambridge Management Institute" (CMI), in all likelihood to remove the bogus university stigma caused by the recent media furore. A check on the website revealed that:
The management team of Cambridge Management Institute is happy to announce that the takeover of Cambridgeshire University is now completed. Begining 1st May 2005, Cambridgeshire University has become part of Cambridge Management Institute. All students currently enrolled with Cambridgeshire University will be transferred to Cambridge Management Institute from 1st July 2005. Currently enrolled students should receive a formal letter and Certificate of Registration from Cambridge Management Institute between 1st July 2005 and 31st August 2005.
For those who graduated before 1st May 2005, Cambridge Management Institute will re-issue their degree certificates to replace the one awarded by Cambridgeshire University.

Cambridge Management Institute regrets the inconvenience caused by the recent takeover, and together with our
sole academic partner, Putra College will do our best to ensure all students and graduates will have improved and enhanced support system that will facilitate a superior academic framework for all our valued students.
In addition, if one review the "recognition" page - it lists down various institutions and agencies which provides accredition of colleges all over the world - such as the California University Foreign Evaluation & Research and European Council for Business Education. However, in absolutely NONE of the write up, did it indicate that the institute have received recognition from these institutions and agencies. If the sole aim of the page isn't to mislead candidates, I'm not sure what it is.

If one visits the older CMI website, you'll also find some interesting information - particularly the disclaimers, which in all probabilities is to avoid lawsuits (having already lost one).
Cambridge Management Institute is incorporated as a non-profit educational corporation in the state of Delaware, USA to provide onsite courses at Learning Centres around the world, and study by distance learning. IT AWARDS ITS OWN DEGREES. IT DOES NOT AWARD UNITED KINGDOM DEGREES.

For those unaware, you can set up a company in Delaware, USA for a cost of approximately US$200 done right over the Internet - check Google here. It's probably instituted as a non-profit entity because then it doesn't have to pay taxes in the United States. The set up of the company in the United States is usually done purely to take advantage of gullible students who gets mightily impressed by "foreign-owned" institutions.

It says that it does not award degrees from the UK, but it named itself after the famous univerity in the UK and at the same time, liberally pasted its entire website with the pictures of famous UK landmarks such as the London Bridge, Trafalgar Square, the Big Ben etc. It's UK address located at the prestigious King's Cross Road, is in all probabilities, just a rented mailing address at a King's Cross Business Centre, and not a "Main Learning Centre" as described on the website.

The unbelievable thing is, why is Putra College located 1-8 Menara KLH, Bandar Puchong Jaya still in business offering "its own degrees" in Malaysia, should their degrees be unaccredited by any accrediting agency? Why are the enforcement agencies within the Ministry of Higher Education unable to take action against these unscrupulous "education" providers?

For a more detailed listing of Bogus or Dodgy Universities, check out the links at my Bogus Universities (Part I) post.


Bigjoe99 said...

I chuckled at 'to endure Malaysia's reputation as a centre of education is not tarnished'. Firstly, there is not much of a reputation and secondly while its not completely dirt, saying its not tarnished is like trying to put the genie back into the bottle.

Anonymous said...

i think you now need to update your information, CMI now became part of Thames International College. Other information about accreditation and correspondences with california university FCE and ECBE was found to be true i personally wrote to each of the entities to verify CMI claims and awards, therefore the above article is in this day misleading readers and former students! please editor remove it, it is nolonger necessary opinion -macs