First question to Henrik re-Knightsbridge University

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by George Brown, Jul 6, 2003.

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  1. George Brown

    George Brown New Member

    Dear Henrik,

    Nice to have you on board (on the board?). Now to your first tricky little question which I have been saving up for a while.

    Circa 2000 (I need to get my files out, but they been buried deep so it will take a while), the Sunday Times in Western Australia published a rather unflattering article pertaining to a certain gentleman holding a high ranking position in one of our TAFE colleges. A picture of him in the college prospectus held pride of place, along with his Knightsbridge PhD hanging in the background. Questions were obviously raised regarding the legitimacy of this degree, and directed directly at him. Journalists followed him around for ages, but he refused to answer pertinent questions, only so much as admitting that he attended a graduation ceremony in Queensland.

    I am not going to buggerise around with the validity or legitimacy of a Knightsbridge degree - I know exactly the standing of such degrees in the Australian higher education system.

    My question to you is - 'Did you hold graduation ceremonies in Australia?'

    Cheers,

    George
     
  2. henrikfyrst

    henrikfyrst New Member

    Dear George,

    I recollect only one case such as you outline, although I'd have to dig deeper to actually get the dates and names straight. It is possible, therefore, that the below is not relevant to the matter you raise, but I am working on the assumption that it is.

    If I remember correctly, the gentleman in question worked at an Australian institution of higher education when he enrolled in and subsequently completed a programme with us. For whatever reason it was frowned upon that he then chose to use the title 'PhD', as it had been earned from an un-accredited institution.

    He should, I would say, have checked local requirements and conditions before taking this step, but I do seem to recall him telling me that it had been cleared with the management of the institution even while he applied for the programme.

    I do not recall any mention in this matter of a graduation ceremony anywhere in Australia, and this is really the main reason I am not entirely certain that we're talking about the same incident. I can, however, confirm that we have never held any such ceremony.

    And thank you for the words of welcome.


    Henrik Fyrst Kristensen
     
  3. George Brown

    George Brown New Member

    Thanks for the clarification Henrik.

    I beleive we are talking about the same person, so you have filled in some gaps.

    So how many Australians have actually complete a PhD through your university?

    Cheers,

    George
     
  4. henrikfyrst

    henrikfyrst New Member

    The section of our database covering graduates is pretty simple, and does not facilitate searches using such parameters as country and level of award. We can search on surname only, and then take details from each file as it is found.

    I would be loath to venture a guess at the number of Australians with a KU PhD, as the only way I could accurately substantiate it would be via a hand-count through actual files. 3? 5? 10? I just don't know. Bear in mind that KU is and always was relatively tiny in terms of candidates.

    As an aside to this, perhaps it would be of interest to know that a large percentage of candidates are in fact ex-patriates. Indeed, if we have, for the sake of being able to make an example, 6 Australian PhDs, 3 or more of these are likely to have been resident in another country than Australia when undertaking the programme.


    Henrik Fyrst Kristensen
     
  5. Carlos M. Lorie

    Carlos M. Lorie New Member

    Why would anyone in the US consider an unaccredited university in Denmark? The degree would be worth the same as a bad cup of coffee. Am I missing something? Are there any good points to this?
     
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Define "good." The main reason for the utility of such degrees seems to be based in confusion. In this case, not only is the institution unfamiliar to most (all?) hiring managers, but so is the recognition processes of foreign institutions. (What we like to call "GAAP.") They don't get it, but instead of rejecting it, they accept it.

    My recent research with HR managers shows they have a taste for solid-sounding schools, regardless of their legitimacy. My survey of 267 HR managers showed a difference in the acceptability of degrees from Columbia State and Capella University, for example. But the difference was in the opposite direction! The more-traditional-sounding of the two unknown schools was much more acceptable, even though it was the most notorious degree mill ever closed. (My opinion.)

    "Knightsbridge" sounds so "veddy British" and, therefore, so very real.

    If one wishes to base one's reputation and success on such a shaky foundation, fine.

    NB: I've commented not at all on the quality of the educational process(es) at Knightsbridge, just on the utility of their degrees.

    Rich Douglas
     
  7. henrikfyrst

    henrikfyrst New Member

    Rich,

    The term 'utility' can be certainly ascribed to a lot of things. However, the discussion of 'utility' presupposes that this is the main motivation for the candidate. It may be for those seeking awards of other institutions, but it does not register very highly on the 'Why-O-Meter' here.

    I'd say that a goodly 80% of our candidates, probably more, simply aim to please themselves. Our typical candidate is male, 45+ years of age and already at least 2/3 up their respective career ladder. Nearly all of them already have at least one prior degree, almost exclusively from recognised institutions. They do not need an award with some form of external approval.

    The name-game is certainly an interesting field of speculation. Much as I must admit that I like the sound of 'Harrington University', I would also immediately say that if I were in a position to hire-and-fire, part of which would be to check out people's credentials, 'how it sounds' wouldn't be very high on my list of criteria for acceptance.

    Knightsbridge University as a name was chosen amongst quite a number. It was not even our first choice. The main reason it was chosen was that there was no college in the Knightsbridge region that we could possibly upset or inconvenience. Some other names were too close to known entities for comfort.

    In this part of the world, most things are now monikered in English. That's just an on-going development. One could go the other way and choose something completely local. In that case no doubt someone here at DegreeInfo would argue that the degree would travel better if an English name were to be chosen. One just cannot please all people all of the time. So as long as I am pleased, it can't be bad!

    I would be interested, have you knowledge of any instance where the 'veddy British' sounding Knightsbridge University has been used by anyone seeking employment with one of the organisations you mention? One can always imply that the name was chosen so as to boost 'credibility', but without something more solid one can imply pretty much anything, such as your making your findings fit anything new that comes along. You make a claim with questionable merit, I make a claim with questionable merit, how far did we get?

    If we stick with what we know, I am sure we'll be less likely to offend unnecessarily.


    Henrik
     
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

     
  9. MarkIsrael@aol.com

    [email protected] New Member

    HenrikFyrst writes:

    > I'd say that a goodly 80% of our candidates, probably more,
    > simply aim to please themselves. Our typical candidate is male,
    > 45+ years of age and already at least 2/3 up their respective
    > career ladder. Nearly all of them already have at least one prior
    > degree, almost exclusively from recognised institutions. They do
    > not need an award with some form of external approval.


    So the following would be an atypical case?

    "Mpumalanga director-general Coleman Nyathi's state-sponsored doctorate in business administration is a worthless 'mail order' degree, the Public Service Commission (PSC) ruled on Friday. PSC chairman Stanley Sangweni said, according to African Eye News Service, a two-month investigation involving the SA Qualification Authority found that Nyathi's highest verified qualification was Standard Eight or Grade 10 school certificate. Nyathi's doctorate from Knightsbridge University in the UK [sic] was, Sangweni said, genuine but was from an unaccredited institution and could not therefore be used to secure any jobs or privileges in the South African civil service."
    -- http://www.anc.org.za/anc/newsbrief/2000/news0612.txt

    How about this list of 22 "reputable organisations in Malaysia" that employ Knightsbridge graduates?
    http://www.brem.s5.com/custom.html
     
  10. henrikfyrst

    henrikfyrst New Member

    Rich,

    Still working out how to format the text in these messages, so please bear with me as I use simply your initials in front of what you wrote, and similarly mine for my own text:

    HFK: I'd say that a goodly 80% of our candidates, probably more, simply aim to please themselves. Our typical candidate is male, 45+ years of age and already at least 2/3 up their respective career ladder. Nearly all of them already have at least one prior degree, almost exclusively from recognised institutions. They do not need an award with some form of external approval.

    RD: This is a horrible reason to pursue a degree. Self-satisfaction? As has been pointed out, how can one be self-satisfied with a substandard achievement?

    HFK: Perhaps I was being less than specific in describing the motivation people have to enrol. By 'to please themselves' I did not mean for vainglory, but for the benefit of undertaking a structured education leading to an award. Whichever the motivation, the education is still a built-in element.

    Whichever reason anyone has to pursue anything, including education, your opinion of their motivation is not nearly as valid as theirs. After all, it is their decision to make in the final event.

    There is overall a very strong emphasis in this forum on 'the degree'. This seems to be understand largely to be why anyone would undertake the rigours of tertiary education. This is not our experience of the people enrolling on our programmes.

    RD: Why should someone pursue a degree at all if it is not for the recogntion it brings? The learning can be done anywhere (and more cheaply) besides in the context of a degree program.

    HFK: I don't know, why? The recognition to which you refer can come from more sources than one, and I do not think it is justified to simply stand on a soap-box and shout out that accredited institutions are the only institutions with a justification to exist. It's an opinion, perhaps, but then there are other opinions.

    DR: People take these degrees and use them in public. Of course, most people don't realize the unaccredited, unrecongized nature of them. It is an illusion.

    HFK: I can assure you that our candidates are very clear, well before enrolment, that Knightsbridge University is not in any way approved by any external body. The whole point here is that they do not care, they do not intend to use their resulting award - should they be lucky to get it - in the way that you seem to think is the only application.

    RD: Hold on, cowboy. I didn't say anything about how you came to call your school "Knightsbridge." I just commented on its impact in terms of degree acceptability in the workplace. And as stated above, that is a very substantiated concept. Don't take it personally!

    HFK: Perhaps I was being overly sensitive. I could have sworn that you stated the following:

    ""Knightsbridge" sounds so "veddy British" and, therefore, so very real.

    If one wishes to base one's reputation and success on such a shaky foundation, fine."

    The way I read this was that you were implying that the choice of the name was intended to make the institution sound 'real'. In other words, you infer that it is not. What, in your eyes, is a 'real' institution'?

    If I was overly defensive, I'll be the first to apologise, but the context and your comments certainly do seem to point in the direction I protested.

    You refer to your research, you link it to Knightsbridge University. I then ask you if in your research you have come across Knightsbridge University. I assume now you have not. Which means that you have extrapolated your research findings to cover something not covered by your research. And this was the point I was trying to make.

    I'll try and not take such things personally in the future.


    Henrik
     
  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Whoops. My "real" comment is certainly one with which you might take umbrage. It was stronger than I meant it to be. Sorry.

    Yes, I've extrapolated my research to this situtation, and which great confidence. That's the point of inferential statistics. I asked HR managers about accreditation and the acceptance of degrees. I got feedback that says how a school is named has a bearing on the acceptance of its degrees, regardless of the quality of the institution behind them. Again, that is relevant here.
     
  12. henrikfyrst

    henrikfyrst New Member

    Mark Israel wrote:

    "So the following would be an atypical case?

    "Mpumalanga director-general Coleman Nyathi's state-sponsored doctorate in business administration is a worthless 'mail order' degree, the Public Service Commission (PSC) ruled on Friday. PSC chairman Stanley Sangweni said, according to African Eye News Service, a two-month investigation involving the SA Qualification Authority found that Nyathi's highest verified qualification was Standard Eight or Grade 10 school certificate. Nyathi's doctorate from Knightsbridge University in the UK [sic] was, Sangweni said, genuine but was from an unaccredited institution and could not therefore be used to secure any jobs or privileges in the South African civil service."
    -- http://www.anc.org.za/anc/newsbrief/2000/news0612.txt

    How about this list of 22 "reputable organisations in Malaysia" that employ Knightsbridge graduates?
    http://www.brem.s5.com/custom.html"

    Mark,

    Let us take Nyathi first. I was waiting for that one. As it's the only nasty thing to turn up when you do a search on Knightsbridge University. Yet, when you know more, not so nasty as all that.

    Dr Nyathi did not lose his employment because of his Knightsbridge University degree. He did not use it to secure the post in the first place, but earned it after having taken employment with Mpulamanga. The fact of the matter is the 'state sponsored' bit. Nyathi used public funds to pay for his programme. But because Knightsbridge University is unaccredited, he was not allowed to do this. As you will see from the above, they acknowledge that the degree is genuine, but as it is from an unaccredited institution, the public coffers should have not paid. Fixed rule, he transgressed.

    If you go to google and search on 'Mpulamanga+scandal', you will find some interesting things. Or at least one was able to, not so long ago. Perhaps I searched on 'Mpulamanga+corruption'. Take your pick. Nyathi was basically initially employed to provide the local government with a scape-goat because a lot of less-than-nice things were coming to the surface, large-scale corruption being one such. As far as I can gather, this is not at all unusual in South Africa.

    That he threatened to kill the journalist writing the article probably did not help his cause!

    Why did you bring this up, by the way?

    As for Malaysia, I have not looked at the BREM site for some time, they are perfectly entitled to post such information as is true and accurate. If some of the graduates that they have assisted us in producing are in local business, that would only seem reasonable, they have after all earned business degrees. More likely than not they were in business even before embarking on the programme. Thank you for bringing this up, I'll have a closer look tomorrow, it's getting a bit too late now.

    Best to all,


    Henrik
     
  13. MarkIsrael@aol.com

    [email protected] New Member

    Henrik Fyrst wrote:

    > Why did you bring this up, by the way?

    Well, you said "a goodly 80% of our candidates, probably more, simply aim to please themselves." I searched for "from Knightsbridge University" to find out what your alumni had been doing with their degrees.

    > If some of the graduates that they have assisted us in
    > producing are in local business, that would only seem
    > reasonable, they have after all earned business degrees.


    My boss got an advanced degree to please himself. He researched a humanities subject (the poet William Blake) that has absolutely nothing to do with his profession.

    But do people really get business degrees to please themselves, or do they do it for professional advancement? Likewise Nyathi: regardless of whether his degree was accredited, it was in a subject that apparently his employer was willing to fund. Doesn't this make it less likely that it was to please himself?

    The other interesting thing about Nyathi is that his "highest verified qualification was Standard Eight or Grade 10 school certificate", whereas you said "Nearly all of them already have at least one prior degree, almost exclusively from recognised institutions."
     
  14. Now this is interesting. I don't know how many people have said - with complete buy-in from RD (Levicoff comes to mind) that their main motivation for pursuing a specific credential was the now disssed "self-satisifaction".

    In fact, there's a thread right now on this. :D

     
  15. henrikfyrst

    henrikfyrst New Member

    Mark,

    Very quickly before the dinner needs cooking.

    You seem to infer from my comments that all candidates enrol for the, if not badly then incompletely phrased, purpose of 'pleasing themselves'. If this had been the case, I suppose I would have ventured somewhat higher up the percentage scale.

    The Malaysian graduates you talk about actually enrolled with an institution with which we have an agreement. I am sure they enrolled on business programmes because they were already in business.

    Perhaps this speaks to 'utility'. It cannot be a bad thing that these graduates should be able to utilise their qualifications. I know they're not Americans, and that they do not hold an RA degree, but they were actually aware of the status of KU prior to enrolling.

    By the way, is it realistically possible only to enrol in a programme of higher education for the purpose of pleasing oneself if one undertakes a field of study completely removed from what one does for a living? I don't think so, but you may disagree.

    As for Nyathi, I guess I should have clarified that SAQA only 'verify' qualifications from accredited institutions. I used the term 'almost exclusively', and without actually retrieving Nyathi's file, I cannot rule out that his could have been one of those without an accredited qualification. Even if I were to retrieve his file I would not be at liberty to share details held therein, I am sure you will recognise.

    You seem to have not completely read up on the matter, by the way. Nyathi was already in the job before he enrolled on the programme with us. The trouble was that, as this was an unaccredited programme, he was not eligible for the sponsorship he had been given. As far as I can gather, this was not at the time a problem as the person signing off the money may have been Nyathi himself.

    He did not lose the job because of his Knightsbridge award.

    None of which, of course, addresses one significant point: Is it yours or anyone else's beeswax what others choose to study, and what their motivations are? Perhaps so if you were engaged with mapping such decision parameters for a specific purpose, but if your only agenda is to cast aspersion and judgement I do think you're wasting your time, however righteous you may be feeling while expounding your views.

    If your purpose is to say 'look, here's a man called a scoundrel with a Knightsbridge University degree', that's a little simplistic. I suspect that if I visited google and tried to find a Harvard, Yale, nay, let's just go University of Phoenix, and find a graduate with a less than illustrious career, I would likely succeed. What were again the names of the universities from which Bill Clinton graduated?

    Perhaps I might interject here that if Knightsbridge were really notorious, would you have not been able to find a whole lot more unpleasantness?

    Some of the contributors here seem to have the notion that anything un-accredited is fair game. So be it. If you wish to come on all fists at least address real topics straight on. State your agenda instead of writing 'round the house' on something that is already in the public domain. So far, I still do not know what it is you wish to establish or emphasise by bringing Nyathi up.

    Now, to the kitchen.


    Henrik
     
  16. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    Were they really?

    The BREM Web site states that Knightsbridge is a UK institution. I know that the name Knightsbridge was chosen to convey that impression (many degree mills have chosen similar names for the same reason), but is that factual?

    I understand that a KUUK degree has a certain ring to it, but did the Malaysians truly receive a degree from a UK institution as they were led to believe?
     
  17. plcscott

    plcscott New Member

    I wonder where the Enron exec.'s got their degrees. I agree with the above. Most of the time when an article is published about someone getting fired, and having an unaccredited degree it is because of the conduct, or transgretions of that person.
     
  18. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    FTR, it's Mpumalanga, not Mpulamanga. Now, see, wouldn't Southern Transvaal have been a lot easier?
     
  19. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I meant "unaccredited degree." I thought that was clear through the context of the discussion, but I guess not.
     
  20. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    What does the phrase "utilize their qualifications" mean?

    If it simply means to make use of the material that they learned, as one might do after reading a book, then I see little problem. Of course, one could ask why awarding a degree was even necessary.

    But if it means obtaining the recognition of other people that one is a satisfactorily educated individual, then the degree itself must actually mean what those third parties expect it to mean.

    A. One must consider students motivations in order to judge whether study at Knightsbridge actually meets students' needs.

    B. If graduates of Knightsbridge subsequently present their diplomas to others as evidence that they are educated, the issue is broadened to whether or not a Knightsbridge education meets the needs and expectations of those third parties.

    C. Considering that distance education, particularly at the doctoral level, is dominated by non-accredited schools (I'd speculate that more than 99% of online doctoral programs are not accredited, and a solid majority of these are degree mills), non-accredited schools cast a long shadow on all of distance education. In a sense, they ARE distance education. It's obviously relevant to the rest of us how and why they are used.

    The scoundrels from recognized universities aren't being called scoundrels because of the university they attended. They had to find different reasons to be called scoundrels.

    Knightsbridge seems to have very little Google-presence at all, one way or the other. That's not a very reassuring sign from a doctoral-level institution.

    I'd be happy to.

    I believe that some non-accredited schools are very interesting, and a few of these might actually be very good. I have posted repeatedly about California-approved schools that I personally like:

    http://forums.degreeinfo.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=8582&pagenumber=1

    But the fact remains that the vast majority of non-accredited schools are questionable, and probably a majority of them are degree-mills.

    That suggests that the prudent thing to do is to treat all the non-accredited schools that we are not personally familiar with with a great deal of skepticism.

    Accreditation provides some degree of outside scrutiny and verification. Absent that, the burden of proof falls upon the non-accredited school and upon its champions to demonstrate its credibility in some other way.

    It's not my responsibility to accept every non-accredited school a-priori, sight-unseen. It's your responsibility to convince us why we should like your Knightsbridge.

    I'm quite willing to add Knightsbridge to the list of non-accredited schools that I personally like, but you have to convince me why I should.

    And I'm just one guy, after all. Even if I like a non-accredited school, that doesn't mean that other people will agree with me or that a school that I like would be a good choice for any but a few special students. That needs to be said too.
     

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