A moral (and legal) dilemma

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Ender, May 28, 2004.

  1. Ender

    Ender New Member

    Hello everybody!

    Let's start with my story.

    I am Italian and I finished high school in 1985, at the age of 19 (in Italy high school ends at 19, not at 18).

    At the time in Italy there was not anything similar to Bachelor degree: after high school you could chose among a para-university course (usually 1 year) or a "full" degree (usually 5 years). My choice was the second one.

    I attended my courses and, at the beginning, everything was fine, but soon I had some serious problems (also of economical nature) which forced me to start a full time work, etc., etc.

    To be short, I left university without graduating, with about 2/3 of the total exams (all the "generical" ones plus some in my specialization, or major).

    Recently, Italy introduced the "short degree" (similar to Bachelor one), 3 years.
    At the beginning the "full" degree and the "short" one were "or/or", but soon they became "serial", in the sense you can graduate in the "short" and then continue with the "full". Like Bachelor - Master progression.

    Wow, was my thinking: now I can use my exams to have a "short" degree. In fact I have all the necessary exams. Unfortunately it is not that simple: the law which introduced the serial degrees says also that if your last exam is older than 8 years, the credit is not automatic, but you have to go in front of an university commission who decides about your case.
    Here is another problem... The same law changed the way government gives fundings to University. In Italy every university is (and must be) accredited by Italian education ministry to operate, and Italian government supports economically universities.
    Well, the new law says that fundings are given to universities proportionally to their students. The more students you have, the more money you get.
    Guess what? The credits are never fully transferred. If you are in my position, and you want to have a Bachelor level degree, you must return to school (also if you have the credit).

    I tried some universities, and in the best case I have to attend at least full year, classroom based.

    I simply cannot, with my job (apart costs: about 20,000 euros if I use a third party to follow the bureaucratic parts and If i pay a tutor to save time).

    Alas, if I were just 3 or 4 years younger, with the same education I'd have a Bachelor degree.

    Let me say I really do not need a degree. After some years of hard work, luck arrived (or we can say someone trusted me enough to let me try) and now I am a consultant at executive level. A degree will not improve my job position and will not change my life in any way. In Italy is a common costume to call "doctor" everybody from clerk position up, so a lot of people call me doctor (also who does know I am not graduated). The only thing I don't like is when someone ask me (it happens very very infrequently, maybe once or two in a year) if I have a degree and I have to say "no".

    So I thought about distance education. I started to look over the Internet, starting to know US educational structure and eventually I found this forum.

    Let me say US degree are not valid in Italy: to have them recognized (in order to use them in public careers, to make some profession or to obtain some position) you have to find an univeristy which offers a degree similar to yours. At this point you go in front of a commission showing your exams, the program of your courses, your textbooks, etc.
    You may be sure that, also if your university is a very prestigious one, that you will have to go through an ordeal: if you are lucky, to have your master recognized you will have to go through 1 or 2 years of courses or exams.

    Considering this, if I should obtain a US degree, I will not "change" it in an Italian one: it will be enough to reply "yes" to the damned question, so the prestige of the university granting it is irrilevant. There is also another thing to say: in Italy a few US university are known by name (from movies), but the most are not. I believe a typical Italian cannot tell the difference between "UCLA" and "Tibetan yak".

    Now starts the moral dilemma: as I said I have enough credit for a Bachelor degree (apart the age requirements), and in the end I do not care about accreditation or about the name of the university, so I seriously thought about degree mills. I know their academic value is more or less that of toilet paper, but should I obtain a degree from one of these, as I said, I will not use it to improve my position, so... Still, I am not sure.

    There is also a question: apart lacking accreditation by USDOE, are these degree legal? I would want to know what are the requirements to issue degree legally (at least in the State
    in which the so-called university is based).

    This question is just because, as I said, all I want is to reply "yes". Period. No names, nothing. It does not count, for me, the "value" of the degree, since I am sure to have earned it with my education, in a real university with real studies. On the other hand, I hate to lie, so I want to be sure the degree is "true", also if maybe on the edge of legality. Otherwise I could find a good designer, a fine piece of parchment and a good printer and have the same result saving a lot of money, but this would be absurd.

    For example, let's take Barrington University: it is listed among degree mills by Oregon education department (as far as I understood, Oregon has the stricties laws about recognition). On Barrington site they claim to be registered among private schools in the state of Alabama. Unfortunately I was not able to find a way to verify this, since the site of Post-Secondary Education Department of Alabama does not give a list of private schools.

    Anyway, since they say this I hope it is true. Is it enough to have a private school license to issue degrees?
    Yet Barrington has a thin paint of respectability, since does not sell directly degrees (it seems you have to take some exams, maybe only pro-forma ones, I do not know). The Oregon site cited before list some degree mills based in some state of the US which on their site they sell directly degree. Have they the legal authority to issue degrees, or are they totally fake?

    Thank you for your replies and opinions
  2. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member


    Don't cazzeggiare with the degree mills. There is no honor to them and much disgrace to being discovered as having purchased a degree.

    I don't know Italian but my father was from 'Ndrangheta territory. If I may ask, which part of Italy are you from?
  3. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    La dracu, Ender, don't use a mill! Check out the Big 3 (Charter Oak, Thomas Edison, Excelsior) on their transfer policies for overseas credits. Or check out some South African or Australian universities (cheaper currency exchange for you). Iddio mio, NO MILLS! Welcome to the board and good luck to you.

    Can somebody help this man on the Big 3 and foreign credits?
  4. Ender

    Ender New Member

    To Decimon: "Don't cazzeggiare" is fantastic! :D

    Anyway, I live near Milan, northern part of Italy.
  5. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member


    Maybe you can help me with something. Every time I buy something the box it comes in has "Fragile" written on it. Who is this guy Fragile and what does he do? :)
  6. Dr. Gina

    Dr. Gina New Member

    Sono d'accordo con lui - l'assegno fuori dal grande tre. Ho anche un cugino che vive in Milano, ma la maggior parte della mia famiglia di mariti è da Frienze e da me dal Sicilia
  7. Je ne comprende pas! Parlez-vous anglais??
  8. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    She's in accord with Janko - look outside of the Big Three.

    She has a cousin in Milano but most of her husband's family is from Frienze (Firenze?) and her's from Sicilia.

    Something like that.
  9. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    BTW - This site has some basic downloadable language dictionaries. That's the xxxxx - to - English page but there are others.
  10. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I would take your coursework to Excelsior (or one of the other big 3) and see what it would take to complete a degree.
    While your credentials are Italian there are a number of recognized (but private) agencies that will perpare a transcript of your work acceptable to the US university you choose.
    Please contact the US school first to be certain that the agency you choose is acceptable to the school.

    Good luck.
  11. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    Here are a few excerpts from a very long and thorough article on Barrington University -- from South Florida Business Journal, 10/13/2000
    You'd probably want to read the whole thing before getting involved with Barrington.

    Reality check for Virtual Academics.com
    Ed Duggan
    A Business Journal investigation found:

    * Company literature described the chairman as having a doctorate and masters degrees, but he has neither.

    * The university accreditation service touted by the company doesn't have offices at addresses given in Switzerland and Washington, D.C., but a search found it was incorporated in Florida by a group that includes Virtual Academics' chairman.

    * The location listed as headquarters for Barrington University is the location of an answering, secretarial and bookkeeping service.

    * Chinese professors and schools get a commission selling degree programs to some of Virtual Academic's students.


    While Virtual is incorporated in Florida, its major virtual university, Barrington University, is incorporated, licensed and headquartered in Alabama, according to the company's SEC filings and numerous company representations.

    "Barrington University is registered with the state of Alabama and accredited by the International Association of Universities and Schools," said Robert Bettinger, who signs himself "Dr. Robert K. Bettinger" in the current Barrington University catalog.

    So where did he get his doctorate?

    "I don't have a doctorate; it's just an honorary title that they use around here," he said. "It will be removed in the next catalog printing."


    So what about Barrington's headquarters in Alabama, which are listed as 808 Executive Park Drive in Mobile? The address, which has been given to the SEC, investors and prospective students, is the address of A & S Answering & Secretarial, and A & S Bookkeeping Service.


    The accreditation agency that Virtual Academics claims for all its online universities is the International Association of Universities and Schools (IAUS).

    Barrington University catalogs and Virtual Academics' university Web sites say the IAUS is headquartered at 118 Rue du Rhone C.P. 3782, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland; telephone 022-707-6046. The address and telephone number are for HQ Global Workplaces. The operator had never heard of the IAUS during a recent call and said it was not housed there.

    When told that the IAUS had no Washington, D.C. office, Bettinger agreed that it had been closed for some time and that the headquarters was in Geneva, Switzerland. When told that there was no office in Switzerland, he agreed that it too had been closed, even though all the company's Web sites and literature showed that address as the IAUS headquarters.

  12. Ender

    Ender New Member

    ;) "Fragile", from Merriam-Webster Online:

    Main Entry: frag·ile
    Pronunciation: 'fra-j&l, -"jIl
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Middle French, from Latin fragilis -- more at FRAIL
    1 a : easily broken or destroyed b : constitutionally delicate : lacking in physical vigor

    Anyway, in Italian it has the same meaning. :)

    Thank you to you all for the replies.

    John Bear, thank you for your post: I was aware of the article, since I found it on Oregon' site. As I said I am perfectly aware these are degree mills and thier "degrees" are worthless than the paper on which they're printed. If pursue this way just to reply "yes" is a moral dilemma (also if your opinions are shifting the balance), but the thing I want to know, and I haven't still grasped is if, apart accreditation, this kind of organizations have the right to issue degrees in USA (at least in one or more State) or not.
  13. Ender

    Ender New Member

    Could you please give me some names? Thank you.
  14. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    For Australian universities, check out something called the "Good Uni Guide". For a list of South African universities, many of which have merged or restructured under the bizarre aegis of the recently retired crackpot wacko loose-cannon %$#(&*^&@! minister of education Kader Asmal (but I digress), check out the website of the South African Qualifications Authority SAQA.
  15. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Getting back to the title of the thread, if faced with an alternative that is either immoral, illegal, or both, you have no dilemma. You might have temptation to be immoral and/or illegal, but you have no dilemma.
  16. Ender

    Ender New Member


    as I explained I have all the titles to have a Bachelor degree, if my exams were just a couple of years longer.
    I could reply "yes, I have a degree" if I had passed my last exam before to quit in 1996 instead of 1994. Unfortunately, Italian law is made this way.

    I already said I didn't understand, reading over the internet if a degree mill has the right to issue a degree (at least in one State), also if valueless, in the USA. Still now nobody clarify this matter.

    If the reply is "yes, they can", obtaining a valueless degree from Barrington, Kennedy Western or others is just a moral dilemma. I "feel" myself as graduated, and I have a position others held with a Ph.D. so I have no need to tell anybody where and how I obtained a degree (since, as I said, US degree are all the same legally valueless in Italy), nor I have to send resumes here and there. I just want to say "yes". In this sense is a moral dilemma, since I will know I am not lying yet I am not telling the complete truth.

    On the contrary, if the reply to my question is "no", so "universities" like Barrington, or Kennedy Western, or others have no legal right to issue (academic valueless) degree, the dilemma does not exist.

    Can someone reply to my question, please?
  17. iquagmire

    iquagmire Member

    Going to a diploma mill is tantamount to printing your own degree. Even though a US degree means nothing in Italy, you may as well do the course work and get an accredited online degree and your moral dilemma will be solved!!!
  18. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    Certainly. In the United States, each of the states is charged with enacting laws concerning which entities are legally allowed to issue degrees. As you are aware, the laws in some states are lax enough to allow degree mills to issue diplomas. From a standpoint of a “license” to issue diplomas of questionable value, in these states, degree mills are operating legally.

    Now, back to your story. Frankly, I don’t care at all about your story or your “feelings” of entitlement. Furthermore, there is no moral dilemma or anything even remotely close to one. You know that when someone asks you if you have a degree, they are not referring to a degree mill degree. You know exactly what they mean by “degree.” You know that degree mill degrees are, as you put it, valueless. Therefore, saying “yes” with a degree mill degree or with no degree at all is exactly the same thing.

    However, as you seem to have already made up your mind to simply “lie your ass off” by saying “yes,” my advice is to save your money and do not buy the degree mill degree. This will actually be a better decision “morally” as you will not be giving your money to and supporting individuals who are in the business of defrauding others.
  19. aceman

    aceman New Member


    It is my humble opinion that if you do not need the degree (according to your first post) for you job or your "status" then do not settle for a bought one. I to am from Italy (Palermo) and my family takes pride in what I do and my word when doing it - moreso than the degree that I have. You sound successful and it sounds that you have secure employment.

    However, if you have an insatiable need for a degree - go for an honourable one - an accredited one. I think it will prove to mean more to you than a "bought" one EVEN if you can justify it with prevoius learning.

    My regards....


  20. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    The degree mill has the right to sell a piece of paper that is in the form of a proper degree because a particular State has no particular law against that practice. But because a thing is legal does not make it "moral." And the legality will not spare you the ridicule of being discovered a fraud. Strength and honor, amico.

    I think that what Ender is looking for is what we call "status." In parts of Europe, titles have more status attached to them than they do in the U.S. I once heard that the uncle I was named after changed his name to have it end with an "i" rather than an "e" as the "i" ending has more status in being a more patrician thing. He'd become a lawyer and wished or needed the better status.

    Edit: I just noticed that "aceman" beat me to the "status" thing.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2004

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