Sunday, December 17, 2006

PhDs must now register with MQA

The Star reported today that the Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA) will soon require PhD holders to 'register' with them in view of the increasing number of people who "buy" their PhDs. Thanks to one of our readers, Ellie, for alerting us of this article.

Malaysian Accreditation Board (LAN) chairman and chief executive officer Prof Datuk Mohamed Salleh Mohamed Yasin said the move was necessary in view of the increasing number of people who buy or forge PhD qualifications.

He added that LAN would not recognise PhDs that had been bought (usually for about RM30,000) and those earned through online distance learning courses.

I think this is a good first step by the MQA especially given the complaints and Tony and myself have made in regards to "dubious" PhDs.

I just have a few clarification questions for MQA.

Firstly, what incentives or dis-incentives will it have to entice / force PhD holders to register themselves with MQA? Does it have the legal jurisdication to 'fine' those who do not register with them?

Secondly, what 'proof' will the MQA ask for from PhD holders if and when they register with the MQA? Will a certificate do? Will the MQA try to verify with the universities that these certificates are genuine? Given the fact that some of these certificates can be as easily 'forged' as they are 'bought', perhaps at a cheaper rate. If the MQA does not have a relatively rigorous method of ensuring that these certificates / qualifications are indeed genuine, then the registration process does not have any credibility.

Thirdly, what will the MQA do once these (or at least some of these) PhD holders have registered with them? Will they make the information public? Will be open it only to subscribers? By making such a database public, the MQA actually incentives those with genuine PhDs to register with them since there will be a public avenue where the 'genuine'ness of these PhDs can be verified. Even if it is open only to certain subscriber groups e.g. private and public universities, professional bodies, headhunting firms, PhD holders from 'genuine' universities would want to have their names registered with the MQA. Hence, it is key that the MQA thinks through what it will do with this database and how it is going to use it to incentivize PhD holders to register with it. I would probably recommend the private subscription model.

Fourthly, if the issue of 'bought' PhDs is becoming all too common in Malaysia, shouldn't the MQA or the MOHE (of which the MQA is part of) publicize some of the more commonly 'bought' PhDs that are in current circulation in Malaysia including those from the International Irish University and Newport, just to name two? It wouldn't be too difficult for MQA to list some of these universities on their website (which I couldn't find) or the website of MOHE. Indeed, if there were really serious about cracking down on this phenomenon, it could easily 'out' a few people who have obtained some of these dubious PhDs, many of them listed in this blog, to dissuade others from obtaining their PhDs from these same sources.

Or maybe, MQA is afraid of offending certain bigwigs who have either gotten their qualifications from some of these dubious universities (including the head of Putera UMNO who obtained his MBA from Preston University in Wymoing) or have presided over official functions organized by some of these universities (Kayveas and the International Irish University)?


Anonymous said...

Then kudos to you, for a job well done in investigative journalism ;)

Anonymous said...

Credit to KM and TP for exposing the fraud. But I wonder whether it would have been easier for the authorities to list the names of the dodgy institutions rather than asking each and every PhD holder to bother filling forms and turning up to register. The solution ends up hassling the legitimate ones rather than weed out the illegals. Of course, this would not have happened if the HR people had done their job well and the colleges in turn had been ethical in their recruitment.


Anonymous said...

Would any Institution trust MQA's list of registered PhDs?

It make more sense to check with the issuing institution direct. Perhaps it would be better for MQA to list qualifying Institutions where their PhD certificate is recognized by the Malaysian government and leave the follow-up check to the enquirer.

clk said...

I'm not sure what MQA's objectives are but are they for general public consumption or for those in the academic lines only? For those teaching or just anyone who wishes to call themself "Dr"? Would it result in stating the words "Register/ Member with/of MQA" after their names and qualification.

Surely, it is much better to educate the general public on their need to be wary of such claims, educate them on what PhDs are all about, who can and who cannot call themselves "Dr" etc...

Anonymous said...

One good thing coming out of the registration of PhDs we will have an immediate knowledge of the directory of experts for the govt as well as public

Anonymous said...

Wonderful. Another avenue for the government to generate income - pay to get a 'P' licence, maybe 2 years, for a fresh PhD, then convert it to a full licence costing an annual fee of RMxxx.

Before that, make sure the many PhD holders among our cabinet members, mayors, state assemblymen, top civil servants, office bearers of education organizations, business tycoons, etc. are genuine PhD graduates.

Let the fun begin!

Oh, yes, there are people with the Drs. title - a title that many thought means multiple PhDs or doctorate degrees. Funny, right?

Anonymous said...


Read today.s star yet?

Govt is not making teh tarik or roti canai flipping exercise in space...
Instead our passenger astronout will carry out " ten ground breaking research" in space!

Waa...lau! Malaysia bolif

I would not be surprosed if the astronout can carry "TEN MICKEY MOUSE" projects...but ten " Ground breaking " research??

He hehe!
Worst part the 19 experiments designed by our Universities...Woooo...even our academics have gone beyond Geneva gold medals

Makes me wonder...just to supervise ONE humble hnours research project take more time before the research can start " lift off!"

!) ground breaking research projects by a medical doctor? he hehe

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,

I wouldn't go as far as saying they are "groundbreaking".. Nonetheless, these ten "short studies" (as I would call it) are much better research initiatives than those Geneva medal and roti canai initiatives...

I am an academic at a local uni with strong inclination towards applied sciences research. From the look of it, these ten studies are pretty decent...

We should also understand the the Ministry actually meant "study" instead of a comprehensive research study... The former only necessitates skills of an experienced scientist (be it a medical doctor or a chemist). Therefore, the doctor should be able to conduct the study which hopefully will yield "adequate" findings....

Anonymous said...

Please dont laugh. If a lady housewife/businesswoman, or an old tourist, with US$20 million can go to space, dont belittle the abilities of our Drs.

I wonder if our spacemen's doctorate are registered/verified. I believe one of them is a PhD-type doctor.

Back to the point of this post, I also wonder about the purpose of the proposal. Should we not just have a accredition procedure and widely publicise both the recognised list, as well as the list of lunchbox "universities". Registration means what? Does a registrant when putting "PhD" after his name need to also insert a registration number just like company numbers, eg, "Dr. Tan Ah Kow, PhD (No. LAN 12345 - XXX)". I must say that is not a bad idea (because it comes from me, of course) but, if we do that, we would have achieved another first. Malaysia Boleh!

I think it is just a knee-jerk reaction of a comment. For sure, nothing meaningful will come out of it.

Anonymous said...

Since we are on the authenticity issue of PhD holders, readers might want to read an article on Irish Int. Univ setting up shop in Cambodia at:
Psst. Want a Western University Degree Without Studying?

And also a possible move by Malaysian government to crack down on bloggers here since some of our readers have voiced their concern about the future of this blog site.

Kian Ming said...

I forgot to mention that the MQA should probably also think about how some people try to pass of a 'Honorary Doctorate' degree as a full-fledge PhD and the use of the corresponding Dr. title.

Golf Afflicted said...

While it's great that the Ministry of Higher Education is getting concerned with the significant presence of bogus PhD holders in our midst, I'm certainly not in favour of a PhD registration act!

It is in no way a practical solution to resolving the current problems.

Instead, what the Ministry should do is to issue strict guidelines to the local colleges in their employment of PhD holders as well as requiring them to publish their academics profile or even resumes in the public domain.

These measures will certainly reduce the likelihood of bogus PhD holders getting employed, or even bogus PhD holders seeking employment.

A registration act will do little to deter the fraudsters from seeking out profit-seeking private colleges for employment.

Anonymous said...

I certainly didn't see this coming and agree with Tony that the rationale/how this is supposed to help is far from clear.

What will probably be at least as important as 'top-down' solutions in the long run is raising awareness among the the general public and giving them the tools to evaluate the qualifications of people at places where they (or their children) are thinking of studying at.

Tony and Kian Ming are doing a good job. I wonder what it would take for some of the articles here to appear in the Education supplements of some of our papers? Have y'all tried?

Anonymous said...

For starters, the local universities' websites must put up a searchable list of their PhD holders in the form of a database searchable by name, NRIC, year and field of research. This should not be much of a problem because of the relatively small number of PhD holders in each local university. Foreign universities will follow suit once they see the benefits of such a move. This will end once and for all the problem of bogus PhDs.

Anonymous said...

We are a society that like short cuts. Those tychoons believes that they can buy those bogus PhDs with monies! This despicable act itself speaks volume of their characters...

The real spirit behind is that one must contribute to the advancement of knowledge for the society..

What is the honour of buying of fake PhDs and being called the "Dr"?

Something wrong with our culture...short term, quick fix, adhocism...

The "maggi mee" culture???? The 15A1's culture?

No wonder we have to keep import technologies from overseas versus homegrown ones?

For a start, let's wipe out those PhD fakers and also, those homopathy practitioners that try to use "Dr"
in front of their names..

It is what we call integrity..

It is a really 3rd world mentality that adores quick fix, adhocism and short run!

The Saint

Anonymous said...

Let's start with maintaining a register, and nail down those with fake degrees!

Better still, we must start a PhDs Theses database, just like what Taiwan, Australia and Japan have done...

I heard in Taiwan, it is a requirement to put a copy of one's PhD thesis in the Taiwan national library..

Simple system... can we initiate and sustain it.. without hanky panky ?????



The Saint

Anonymous said...

Malaysia, the land of the expensive solution when a cheap one is readily available.

Anyway, even without fake PhDs, IIU & their iolk can still offer DBA, D.Ed, DM & all manner of dodgy Master degrees.

Anonymous said...

Wat matters in the end is not whether you have a phd or not, but a good khram!:))

Anonymous said...

The Star (Tuesday December 19, 2006): Universiti Sains Malaysia vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Dzulkifli Abdul Razak believed it was a good move.

Did DAR recently get his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences by research?

Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Prof. Dato', DMPN, DPMS, PJK, BPharm Sci.U.Malaysia, MSc Strath.

Anonymous said...

he hehe!

Lead by example!

I wonder if the Msc is by coursework cum research?

Why worry?

UM vc got only LLM

So is UKM VC only got medical post grad.mrcp?

This is MALAYsia!

Anonymous said...

Nowadays people Google everybody. Anyone with a PhD should be Google-able.

In Malaysia, make it mandatory for everyone with PhD or any kind of doctorate degree by research to have a self-description on a website and include the following information:
Title (Dr),
Type of Doctorate Degree,
Year Degree Awarded,
Name of University that Awarded the Degree,
Period of Doctorate Candidature (from ? year to ? year),
Title of Thesis,
Name of Supervisor or Names of Supervisors,
Name of University, College, School, or Institute where the Research was Conducted [this is important in the case of someone receiving the doctorate degree from the University of London; was the person from Imperial College London, University College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, etc?],
Name of Department where the Research was Conducted,
Publication(s) from the Thesis, if any.

Now, all Dr in Malaysia, nothing to be shy about showing off the above information in the public domain so that people can Google you.

Anonymous said...

Wat about the name of the external examiner that examine the PhD thesis, as this will lead to further credibility and respect for the PhD holder?

This is necessary under the present situations here as almost anyone can become an external examiner....

Anonymous said...

If you think fraudulent doctorates are outrageous and ludicrous, wait till you find out about our researchers and professors publishing fraudulent and cooked-up data in conference proceedings and journals, including established peer-reviewed journals!

Wail till you find out about our researchers and professors making claims in our newspapers that they had discovered this and that! Fraudulent and unsubstantiated discoveries and claims made publicly – yet thought OK by the management of our institution of higher learning.

That’s another story.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. Have a safe holiday.

Anonymous said...

Learn From History,

You are indeed wise!
What you say is true...very true

When I think back a lot of the research papers have ..."et als" who never contribute anything to the paper but unashamedly declare he is the author!

This kind of shame is no better than those exhibiting bogus degrees

Merry Christmas to You LFH

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha ... while we are discussing about PhD degrees, in Oriental Daily Newspaper (20 Dec 2006), page A4, there is an advertisement inviting people to subscribe for their MBA, PhD, Hon PhD from Golden State University.

Call or SMS 016-2220672, Mr Ng
(I'm surprised it is not Dr Ng.)

Asia Pacific Recruitment Center
Power Business Academy Sdn Bhd

How sad I had to work hard for my PhD!!

Anonymous said...

You are lucky!
My supervisor is not at all interested in supervising me
I have to do my PhD all alone...against all odds.

Anonymous said...

Other shockers are abuse of power and plagiarism by supervisors of higher degree candidates.

When a higher degree candidate took a long time to graduate, does it mean that the candidate is lazy, incompetent, and not good? Yes, your immediate reaction is that the candidate is lazy, incompetent, and not good. But it’s not always true. There are many other reasons.

For example, it may be because the supervisor did not plan properly and just grabbed students indiscriminately (good for the cv, playing the number game, regardless of whether the candidates complete their higher degrees or not): no clear research theme or problem, no proper instrument or/and chemicals available for research, no sufficient fund for research, etc., leading to delay in completion of the research and, hence, thesis. In such cases, the higher degree students have to take part of the blame for not checking out their potential supervisors thoroughly.

Sometimes, the candidate is actually very smart, hard working, and productive, and generated lots of data and good international papers. Because the candidate is brilliant and productive, certain supervisor intentionally keeps the candidate longer and refuses to allow the candidate to graduate until the candidate completes more work and publishes more papers. The supervisor exploits and squeezes the candidate to the fullest. The candidate is at the mercy of the supervisor.

Furthermore, there are supervisors who placed themselves as the first author in publications based on the work of their higher degree students, rather than as the senior author. Worse still, some supervisors used the data of their final year students’ projects and their higher degree students’ research as their own and published them in single author papers.

Of course, we can also discuss about sexual harassment by supervisors. That’s another story.

These things happened in many universities worldwide.

Anonymous said...

sexual harassments...mmmm

In the good old days its often the lecturer trying to seduce or sexually harass the students..

now I think its the students trying to sexually harass the lecturers for certain benefits

fter all older lecturers represents power and maturity which many young students look forward too...

plus experienced khrams

Anonymous said...

Get a 'geunine kualification' from The International Asia Natural Group (TIANG). All Malaysians are entitled to the award called "Pingat Utama Kehormatan Instimewa " for a nominal fee, not free of charge. This will entitle anyone interested to use the post nominals (just first letters of the kualification)followed by the name of this organisation (Tiang) after their names. Just send three coke bottle tops to Putera Umno. Putera Umno Boleh, kita pun Boleh.

YS said...

Here are some further info about the issues mentioned