Central University of Nicaragua Degree Scheme

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by Rich Douglas, Nov 21, 2021.

  1. mintaru

    mintaru Active Member

    There are two differences I'm aware of:

    1. A Higher Education Institution may not call itself a university.

    2. A Higher Education Institution is not authorized to offer recognized degrees in law or medicine.

    Only point 1 applies to SMC Education Group. I guess that's the reason why the Maltese school isn't called SMC-University.
  2. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    One thing I think is worth noting is that people, especially on this board, often focus on whether a degree will be "accepted." Practically speaking, let's break down what that means:

    1. The credits from said school can transfer to a, as an example, RA school in the states. Meaning, I bug out of a program at UCN and then enroll at a program at Penn State and my credits transfer, within stated maximums, to allow me to not have to start all over. This has two parts; transfer of general education credits and electives versus transferring major coursework. The latter can be more restrictive, even within the U.S., especially where programmatic accreditation is a concern.

    2. The degree qualifies you for admission to a graduate/professional program at an RA school. So you have a bachelors from UCN, can you be admitted to an MBA program, law school, medical school where that undergrad degree meets the undergrad requirement?

    3. Will an employer hire you where this degree meets a requirement for employment?

    Notably, all three of these things have many shades of gray. We have seen people with degrees with LBU getting admitted to law schools and graduate schools at Liberty, Regent et al. We have seen people with Trinity (Newburgh) doctorates teaching at accredited bible schools. Rockefeller University is accredited by the NYS Board of Regents which falls into a weird gap in the RA/NA debate. It isn't NA. It can't be. They don't accredit at the National level. They accredit schools only within the state of New York. For some purposes they seem to be considered RA. The school is undeniably "legitimate" and well respected in the fields it teaches, however, and we can find people sporting those doctorates at respected institutions throughout the US and Canada (as well as Europe).

    Three can get awfully hazy. Unless you are out for your first job in a field, the odds are your resume has enough gravitas to land you a job regardless of your alma mater. If you are an engineer and have years of experience, especially in a specialized engineering discipline, the odds of a non-academic employer scrutinizing that M.Eng. from Indonesia diminishes greatly. At the same time, unless the degree comes from a school that is undeniably a fraudulent institution, many employers lack the appetite to challenge a person on it. Even if the most at will climate, firing or refusing to hire an applicant over a specific degree granting school will often give a company;s General Counsel pause that it may somehow cross into a discriminatory practice. If Joseph Neuhaus has a degree from Kerala India and you find it odd because Joseph Neuhaus does not appear to be Indian, then you're making a judgment about Joseph Neuhaus's ethnicity (and potentially religion, in the case of Don Bosco).

    We see academic institutions making some odd hiring decisions as well. This often comes down to someone using another qualifying degree and later tacking on an unaccredited (or for-profit or whatever the topic of the day is) degree. Though sometimes, that isn't the case at all and we find a perfectly respectable school hiring a person with the degree from Capella, or a school accredited by DEAC or a school of otherwise "questionable" provenance.

    We beat to death the topic of whether a person with an Ed.D. from the American College of Education or Aspen University could ever land a full time teaching position and if the person with the PhD from the University of Phoenix was a fluke. Here's the simple reality...

    It all depends on the overall picture.

    If I work at the Geek Squad for 20 years at the store level and I have a B.S. in Computer Science from MIT, there is a disconnect in my resume. My education does not seem to line up with how I am using it. This raises questions about what went wrong. Am I lying about graduating? Did I graduate but prove inept at computer science in the corporate world? There are questions. If I am a software developer at Microsoft and bounce to Google before Facebook ultimately poaches me then people are likely not going to pay as close attention to the fact that my MIT degree is actually in linguistics or my CS degree is from California Southern University etc.

    The acceptability of a degree depends heavily on the overall picture a candidate presents.

    If a UCN doctorate looks like the crowning achievement of a career well spent, an employer will likely be fine with it. If it is yet one more questionable item on a resume full of questionable items and odd and poorly explained gaps then even if that PhD was from Yale it would likely draw the wrong kind of attention.
  3. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I can see some uses for this degree from the Canadian perspective. If you are able to get it recognized by one of the five recognized Canadian evaluation systems (wes/iqas/ices/ces, Quebec), you can use it for immigration purposes. If it is evaluated as positive, you can most likely find something with the federal or provincial government in areas in demand such as health care, education, business or engineering. In some areas in Canada with less immigrants (e.g. Manitoba), most likely can work to get a job given the shortages of people in some Canadian provinces. There are other areas that can help to fill the credits, Alberta recognizes distance education for a psychologist license so if this PhD degree is in Pyschology, you might be able to become a psychologist in Alberta provided that you pass the exam. It can also help to fill credits towards a CPA license if this degree is in accounting. It might help to get certifications in other fields such as teacher certification, counselling, etc.
    In some areas, it is the license that matters and not so much the name of the school so if the degree can help to earn it, then it might have some value.
    The degree would have less value in areas when a prestigious degree is needed such as tenure track positions at universities, corporate executive positions or if you decide to settle in areas with high levels of immigration such as Toronto.
    WES black lists this school but you can try with IQAS, ICES, CES or Quebec. Also, if you become Canadian and have a positive evaluation from any of these agencies, you can always try for a TN visa and get a job in the US. Some licenses have mutual recognition such as a teacher license.
  4. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    Ha, just gives me more things to complain about. I like that.

    On a serious note, I looked at what you mentioned about Guyana and Texila. I don't know a damn thing about Guyana's educational system, but usually when there is a distinction made there is a difference (and I don't mean that sarcastically). However, there could be more to it than we understand. The accredited school list only shows one accredited school, with every other school being under the "approved" status, at least the last time I checked anyway.

    I could just contact them, but I don't care enough. If someone else does it though, that would be great.
  5. Alpine

    Alpine Active Member

    What kind of value does the World Higher Education Database (WHED) have in ascertaining the validity of these foreign schools?

    Does anyone know if NACES evaluators use this database?

    At first glance, it appears an HR department would have some straightforward tools available online to ascertain rather quickly if the school attended is legitimate.

    WHED: FAQ/Contact – WHED – IAU's World Higher Education Database

    USDE: DAPIP | Homepage (ed.gov)
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
  6. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    We go through this every so often but let me reiterate how, exactly, HR departments work around hiring.

    Right now, I have 75 open positions that need to be filled. Every day they are open, I lose a day in metrics that are designed to make sure I am doing my job. Every open requisition I have can negatively impact my requisition close rate.

    To be clear, it is absolutely a priority that we hire good people. However, that is not an invitation to take your sweet time doing it. Recruiting work, especially for specialized professions, is not about casting out a line and hoping you get a bite. It's about being strategic in your postings but also not being afraid to reach out to potential candidates directly to invite them to apply, cultivate referrals, follow leads etc.

    In 98% (personal estimation) of degree fraud cases in hiring you're dealing with someone who is claiming a degree they never earned. Very, very rarely are people coming in with diploma mill degrees for professional level jobs. Do I see them? Absolutely. And very often they come from exactly the sort of candidate you would expect and they wouldn't be considered seriously even if they had degrees from reputable schools. We're talking spotty job history, incredibly low level positions over a sustained period of time sort of stuff. There are obviously people who are skilled professionals rocking that unaccredited degree. We see the bombs go off in the news every so often, after all. It's just very rare.

    Part of the reason it is so rare is that, years ago, there was no HR guidance to people who wanted to earn a degree. Now there is. There used to be no tuition assistance. Now there is. There used to very often be no written standards around accreditation. Now there are*.

    I don't believe I have ever, in the course of my entire career including years working as a dedicated recruiter at a massive multinational staffing firm, encountered a situation where a top candidate had a questionable degree listed for a highly desirable role. Not even for more entry level professional positions do you see it. There are just too many people out there who actually meet the requirements (though, admittedly, we're in a bit more of a crunch at the moment). But we are not going to sit around and check every school we don't recognize the name of. The ROI just isn't there for us to do that. This is especially the case where the person has the relevant experience we want. It has never been about a lack of information. It has always been about the fact that we aren't registrars evaluating transfer credit. We don't scrutinize education to that extent and there is no demonstrable business purpose that would encourage us to start.

    *A lot of places have them. Though a lot of them are poorly written. Still, they establish the notion that "they have a website" is not a sufficient measure of whether a degree is acceptable.
  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Do you do it for the one you decide to hire? Checking credentials is a pretty normal HR function, and limiting it to the hiring candidate would cut the costs.

    I can see not doing it for applications, the vast majority of which you'll reject anyway on other grounds.
    I can see not doing it for applications you want the hiring manager to consider for the same reason.
    I can even see not doing it for the ones you'll interview for, again, the same reason.
    But I wonder about the hiring process? Do you do background checks? Drug testing? Credential verification?
  8. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I have a NACES evaluation report that is very details about their justification for the evaluation. I will not post it here but in general, this NACES evaluation service checked the minister of education of the country where the degree was granted and validated that the degree was granted with confirmation from the School and that is recognized by the minister of education. WHED is used in some countries as an authority to validate degrees but it is not universal. A school might not be in the Whed database and still be legit or viceversa.

    UCN is recognized by the ministry of education of Nicaragua, in general this degree would be accepted but the evaluation service also at their own discretion can reject a school because their own criteria. WES rejects UCN but others might accept it. In my opinion, there are conflicts of inteests here, WES evaluates credit for transfer for many universities and colleges and giving UCN RA equivalency status hurts business given their price tag. I enquired about this not to WES but to another agency (UK NARIC), their argument is that degrees given with foreign partners are outside of the scope of UCN accreditation. UCN might hire some legal firms in the US and Europe to fight this with some legal recourses but I doubt they have the financial resources to do this.

    I would consult with a NACES services before taking the degree with UCN. A NACEs evaluation report might help you in some cases like academic and government jobs but the employer always have the right to accept or reject the degree even with a NACES report. Some professions have also specific requirements.
    Alpine and Garp like this.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    If so, doesn't this render the degree a titulo propio? Even if the term isn't being used by UCN?
  10. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Yes, same issue with Azteca and other similar operations. These titulo propios are difficult to interpret because in Canada and USA, Universities are only allowed to offer degrees authorized under their scope of accreditation. In Nicaragua, Spain and Mexico, universities can offer degrees outside thier scope of accreditation but these degrees are technically not accredited by the minister. So they are legal but according to some evaluation services, outside their scope of accreditation. Technically, the credits of these degrees should be recognized but the degree itself might not. So a PhD from UCN should be recognized as 60 or more credits in the US or Canada or like a graduate diploma or certificate. The issue in Nicaragua is a bit complex becuase it is not very clear if UCN can grant a degree in any field outside their scope of accreditation and be still recognized as a degree by the minister of education of Nicaragua. UCN and similar profit from the fact that is some countries, being listed in WHED is an automatic recognition, their degrees are legal in Nicaragua but might not be recognized by the minister, a bit like the issue of non accredited degrees in the US that might be legal but cannot be used where an accredited degree is needed. This is a complex issue.

    The intention to allow schools in Mexico and Spain to grant their own degrees seems to me like an effort to allow them to offer continuing education to prospect students wihout going to the hassle to accredit degrees every year for something new. These degrees are meant to be something on top of an accredited degree but not a replacement of an accredited degree.
  11. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Background checks yes. Drug tests, yes (though recent law changes have forced us to revisit that entire process). Degree verification is ostensibly completed by the background check vendor. However, it does not include verification of a school's accreditation. I believe they do require an evaluation report for foreign degrees though, and it has been a while since I reviewed the specifics around this since it doesn't come up very often, the report can come from either a recognized evaluator OR any regionally accredited university that is in the business of evaluations.

    Beyond that, that's about as far as the educational review goes and that is pretty standard across the industry at this time. Most places outsource to an external verification service and most of those do not go as deep as the typical member of these boards with their Googling. Naturally, if any fraud is uncovered even at a later date it can lead to termination. But as I said, with the vast majority of degree fraud cases being "I graduated from Harvard" when you did no such thing, the evaluation process catches the vast majority of the problem.

    It has happened, also, that sometimes either HR or a hiring manager will, in the course of the interview process, raise a concern over a university on a resume. This flag raising is only done in the case of "Hey, I like this person but is this degree legit?" Of the last five times it happened at least three of those times were American InterContinental University. Once was, hilariously, Harvey Mudd. I believe one or two were related to the change of name from SUNY Institute of Technology to SUNY Polytechnic.

    But, let's be realistic here...

    You're hiring an engineer. Their work history completely checks out. Their professional references completely check out. Their Masters from MIT has been confirmed during the background check process. Do you think anyone here really cares about the bachelors from the school we never heard of?

    So short answer, yes, we check. But we don't check every detail of the education. None of us are sitting back and doing date comparisons to see if your degree fell within, or just outside of, the dates of accreditation, for example.
  12. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I got a good gig once because of this. There were two people in that department, one came across my LinkedIn profile and said, "We need someone like this guy," and the other said, "Well, why not this guy?" They reached out, and it worked out.
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    That's how Mel Brooks got Frankie Laine to sing the theme song to Blazing Saddles. He put an ad in the trade papers looking for a "Frankie Laine type" to sing the song. Laine saw it and dialed up Brooks and the rest was cinematic history.

    (Brooks didn't tell Laine that the movie was a comedy and a send-up of westerns. He wanted Laine to sing the song straight, and that's what he got.)
    Maniac Craniac and SteveFoerster like this.
  14. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Very interesting (UK NARIC rationale). I wonder what they based their determination on (specific Nicaraguan statutes)?
  15. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Given the practices of some UK universities, that's... interesting.
    Garp likes this.
  16. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    My guess would be that it is nothing so sophisticated. Degree evaluation is an industry and industries develop norms, right or wrong, that carry on especially as people move from organization to organization. I doubt anyone consulted any Nicaraguan legal authorities to determine if foreign partnership are, indeed, outside of the scope of their accreditation.
    Maniac Craniac and SteveFoerster like this.
  17. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Shades of George Carlin... "It's a big club, and you ain't in it!"
  18. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I did not ask. However, the validation practice is a bit lose. UCN grants a second degree based on a degree granted by a private unaccredited company. There is no involvement of the school for the teaching, research supervision, senate approval, etc. Basically, I am just validating what others do. This is a practice that is common for masters degrees in Europe but these are for propio degrees that are not accredited by the minister of education. They seem to just do an analogy and figure that if this practice is not accredited in Europe, they should not allow it for latin american degrees otherwise they open the door for private schools just to go to Latin America to make their degrees accredited in Europe.
    There are many schools in Latin America that offer accredited online PhDs. It would not take long before these degrees are offered in English so I would wait few years before enrolling with a UCN partner that might lead to a degree that might have acceptance problems.
  19. tadj

    tadj Well-Known Member

    I've discovered the following note on the German Anabin database; https://anabin.kmk.org/

    "The "Universidad Central de Nicaragua" (UCN) is a private university and as such is authorized by the Nicaraguan University Council. The university offers study programs in cooperation with the "Universidad Azteca de Chalco" in Mexico as well as distance learning courses at branch offices in Germany and Austria. For this purpose, the university awards degrees such as the degree of 'MA' or 'PhD'.

    The Nicaraguan Higher Education Act does not restrict the titles to be awarded and accordingly does not standardize the requirements to be met. The above-mentioned degrees are currently not offered at the UCN in face-to-face studies and are not subject to the supervision of the Nicaraguan University Council. The branch offices operated by the UCN in Germany and Austria do not meet the local requirements and academic standards of a university institution. The degrees acquired through distance learning can therefore not be recommended for recognition here."

    The Universidad Azteca entry features the following:

    "The 'Universidad Azteca de Chalco' is a private university recognized by the Mexican Ministry of Education. If it is a state-recognized degree (Reconocimiento con Validez Oficial de Estado / RVOE) that was acquired under Mexican study law, these degrees are generally recognizable in Germany. However, this does not apply to the university's own degrees or degrees that are offered in cooperation with non-university institutions."
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2021
  20. tadj

    tadj Well-Known Member

Share This Page