International Equivalence?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by vpacheco, Feb 15, 2001.

  1. vpacheco

    vpacheco New Member

    Hello there,
    What if MIGS can prove that its academic status is "international equivalence?"
    It is something we all should think about.

  2. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    As it stands, the phrase "international equivalence" is ambiguous. If it simply means legal standing in the country where the degrees are officially granted, then it doesn't mean a whole lot in my opinion. Berne University has legal standing in St. Kitts, but that doesn't make Berne an academically sound university.

    So what is really important is "international equivalence" of *academic quality*. If it were credibly demonstrated that MIGS has "international equivalence" in the sense of meeting international academic standards, then my opinion would be something like Dr. Bear's. I would say that MIGS is academically adaquate, but has *terrible* marketing.

    That would leave aside the additional questions of MIGS' legal standing in the United States, and of its academic ethics. (Selling pre-written term papers?)

    So the question becomes, how can the "international equivalence" of MIGS' academic quality be demonstrated?

    MIGS has yet to graduate a student. It is certainly not a hotbed of research productivity. So its product doesn't speak for it at this early point.

    CEU's approval of what MIGS is doing is basically meaningless in my opinion because CEU, with only one masters program of its own, seems out of its depth providing QA for MIGS' doctoral programs.

    That makes outside quality assurance *critical* in MIGS' case, because they present no other credible way for us to judge their academics. They *must* have credible accreditation.

    That's why the details of how Mexico manages the foreign collaborative arrangements that its colleges enter into are so important. Who is responsible for overseeing the activities of foreign program providers? How exactly was that responsibility fulfilled in MIGS' case?

    Schools, especially new schools, often lack credibility. Accreditation is what gves them credibility. But if it is to be meaningful, accreditation itself must be credible. If the form of accreditation being claimed is something entirely new and untried, if people have no way to understand or to trust it, then it must be carefully explained.

    That's why I think that the burden of proof is squarely on MIGS to win trust. It needs to be honest, open and forthright.
  3. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    Yes I agree. This would really go a long way. I didn't realize that CEU didn't have any Ph.D. programs of their own. So CEU couldn't be expected to reasonably apply any academic quality assurance. I am suspicious that there's no plan for any QA because if there were I would expect an explanation on their web page. I wonder if it has ever even been discussed.
  4. vpacheco

    vpacheco New Member

    Most universities accept application based on regional-accredited degree or its international equivalence.
    Is international equivalence considered "a degree mill?"

  5. Erma

    Erma New Member

    It is depending on what you meant by international equivalence. There are a lot of international equivalences such as for example non-accredit school that is accredited as (ACI) Association Commision International or (WAUC)World Accredit something...and more.
    If international equivalence you stated that is listed and recognized by U.S. Department of Education then it is accepted as equivalent.

    It's strange to me for example Stanton University, ACI and Preston University, WAUC are accepted almost every where around the world but yet they are not really accepted here in the U.S.

    Another thing I heard most non-accredit schools complain about the cost to get the school to have accreditation. What! The cost is paid or will be paid by future students. Beside, the school can always ask any previous student financially to contribute to have the school be accredited. I am sure most students would love to contribute.

    Victor, to answer you question: international equivalence is or may be is a degree mill; however, recognized by DOE's international equivalence is not a degree mill.

    Erma Ash
    "The great tragedy of science is the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact." -Thomas Henry Huxley
  6. arivacoba

    arivacoba New Member

    I do not know if I am understanding your question correctly. To begin with, there is not such thing as international equivalence to regional accreditation. Most countries authorize or otherwise recognize the degrees granted by means of local ministeries or agencies. Such is the case in Mexico and most of America Latina, and in most cases, this procedure is very akin to regional acreditation. However, there are some countries that do not follow a very estrict procedure, and even some countries than only require the school or institution to be registered for fiscal purposes, without any addicional research or validation. As you may see, the goverment approval of the latest means very little in terms of academic quality.

    So, John Bear coined the term "GAAP", generally accepted acreditation principles. This means that if the school appears in one or more of a short list of directories (like the UNESCO book or the British and the Australian directories... John Bear can refer you the exact name and nature of such directories) then such school could likely be treated just like any other RA school. Note the "could": this means that GAAP is not universal, and it is more a guide than a policy: I know at least two institutions listed in the UNESCO book, whose degrees would not be accepted by most universities in Mexico, and would be analized on a case-by-case basis in almost all RA universities over there...

    So, once again, caveat emptor applies.
  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    "MIGS" has no institutional status, except as part of the Centro de Estudios Universitarios, Monterrey. MIGS has been included in CEU's approval to operate. Additionally, the CEU's authority to award the "doctorado" through MIGS has been established.

    The CEU is listed in the International Handbook of Universities, which includes their "virtual branch" (MIGS) and the doctorates. Also, CEU is listed in AACRAO's World Education Series for Mexico (who's listing did not included MIGS because it pre-dates it). Both of these listings meet GAAP.

    I, for example, am not earning a degree FROM MIGS. I'm earning one THROUGH MIGS, but the degree will be awarded by the CEU. A noted author suggested I use emphasis on CEU, just as Heriot-Watt and University of Leicester students do. And when I discuss MIGS/CEU, I'll tag the following:

    Rich Douglas, Ph.D. (Candidate)
    Centro de Estudios Universitarios
    Monterrey, NL, Mexico
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Uh, due to dumb editing, that should read: "a noted author suggested I emphasize the CEU (as the degree-awarding institution), just as Heriot-Watt...."


  9. vpacheco

    vpacheco New Member

    Thank you, I accept Erma short answer.

    Rich Douglas, I see.
    How come MIGS doesn't make it clear on its web site that the degree is granted through CEU not by MIGS?
    Also, if what you said is true, would it be best for both parties without prejudice reach an agreement without going through court?

  10. Erma

    Erma New Member

    Dr. Levicoff just offered a Valentine gift as an agreement. Included the usual kisses. [​IMG]
    I thought MIGS accepts the offer, but Dr. Levicoff's web site is still running. I guess they (MIGS) haven't accepted it yet. There is no deadline, though.

    Erma Ash
  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    The site makes it very clear, from the very first page at, that it is the CEU that awards the degrees.

    Regarding the suit, I have already said I hope the two parties settle this, I don't think monetary damages should be sought. I would prefer people stuck to the facts (as many, many have), and get away from inflammatory rhetoric that serves no one. But while I'm wishing, I might as well wish for a pony (and revisit my own barbed comments from time-to-time.)

    Rich Douglas
  12. vpacheco

    vpacheco New Member

    Erma, what kind an offer is that?
    One can not hoping for an agreement and as the same time call the other person "boy" or "child".
    I don't mind draft an reasonable agreement letter if Dr. Steve Levicoff asks. He has to be more sincere.
    I don't know reaching an agreement is easy. It would be a surprise, don't you think? Beside, the punitive damage has already been done without cash settlement is very unlikely.

  13. vpacheco

    vpacheco New Member

    Rich, I read the letter from the web site you provided.
    "The Secretary of Education of the State of Nuevo Leon, the state of our incorporation and of our main campuses, has approved our entire educational curriculum through the doctorate level (traditional and virtual) including our distance learning programs under MIGS."
    In my opinion, the statement should be changed or revise to:
    "...has approved our entire educational curriculum through the doctorate level (traditional and virtual) including our distance learning programs through MIGS."

    It is there but not clearly stated.

  14. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

    I do not intend this to turn into a flame-fest, but I believe it is appropriate to ask: Are you, in fact, now a candidate, Rich? Because when you first used the term "Ph.D. Candidate" on a.e.d., you were only in the application phase of your program with MIGS, as you later acknowledged.

    FWIW, I agree with the notion that CEU is hardly experienced in the granting of doctorate degrees. In fact, they have never granted one. Moreover, I was quite fascinated to find out that the California State University at Monterrey Bay, at which MIGS' president, Armando Arias, holds several positions (including V.P. of Institutional Advancement, dean, and tenured professor), also has no doctoral programs.

    Finally, while we all know and love your doctoral advisor (Rich's advisor, who entered MIGS solely at Rich's request, is John Bear), I find it notable that you do not appear to have a committee per se. When I graduated from Union - and I assume, when you were enrolled in Union - my doctoral committee consisted of seven persons: two cores, two adjuncts, two peers/graduates, and myself as the learner (with further validation done by at least one dean). If this type of validation does not exist at MIGS - and apparently it does not - then I would hardly think of their degrees as credible, especially with their history of granting doctorates (which is none), whether the degree-granting entity is MIGS or CEU.

    In short, I'm afraid that you are already attempting to cover your rear. Which is fine, since you may have to get used to doing so even once you have been awarded the degree.
  15. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    I'm just wondering how this usually works. The dissertation defense will be done in front of the doctoral committee. I've heard what would seem to be widely differing policies on how the rest of the peer review process works, from just the dissertation defense to having to travel around to different institutions giving seminars, etc.

    The bottom line question is what options would a very small school like MIGS even have? Is the whole idea flawed that you can have such a small school the size of MIGS seeming to offer such a wide range of advanced degrees?
  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Yes, I am a candidate.

    Yes, there is such supervision, in the form of an Academic Supervisory Committee, consisting of a faculty mentor and two other faculty members. This is all spelled out in both the Student and Faculty manuals (I edited both, but didn't make this provision; it was already there).

    I was, too, concerned about the one-person supervision model, only to find it is actually three (and more at the defense of the dissertation). The faculty mentor definitely takes the lead and provides continual guidance. The rest of the committee considers the progress made at stated points (learning contract submitted, learning contract fulfilled, comprehensive examination, dissertation proposal, dissertation review, and dissertation defense.)

    As for post-graduation, my experiences in human resources (in the public, private for-profit, and private-not-for-profit)lead me to a different conclusion. And there's a lot more going on about MIGS, CEU, and other cross-border activities than what gets discussed here. We shall see.

    Rich Douglas
  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    CEU offers four doctoral programs through MIGS, in Education, Business (where I am), Psychology, and Heath Sciences Research.

    Rich Douglas
  18. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

    Every school has different policies or procedures. Those that are regionally accredited have a system in place that meets not only their internal requirements, but those of the appropriate accrediting agency.

    Side note: I submit that if MIGS were to apply for regional accreditation, they would not meet the audit and validation standards required for approval. Lest anyone think that a school presumably based in Mexico could not apply for regional accreditation, it is notable that SACS (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) is responsible for not only Florida and Texas, in which MIGS claims to have its principal administrative offices, but also for Mexico (which is considered part of SACS' "extraterritorial" region). A search of the SACS web site will indicate that they do, in fact, accredit schools in Mexico. CEU, the parent of MIGS, is obviously not one of them.

    Incidental point of clarification: The learner or student in a doctoral program attends the seminars (presented by faculty)in that role, he or she does not present the seminars per se unless in the role of learner or student.

    Considering that Rich has stated that MIGS has no paid faculty or staff, I would say that they do not have many options. Keep in mind, however, that MIGS is totally external - they do not hold seminars at all.

    Nonetheless, your question is quite appropriate, and I would expand it somewhat: Considering that MIGS has, according to Rich, no paid faculty or staff, no facilities, etc., how do they offer doctorate degrees at all? In my opinion, not very well.
  19. Gerstl

    Gerstl New Member

    The process varies considerably. The committee might have a lot of involvement in the process, or might come into it late in the process.

    Mine was a bit of both and might prove instructive: I did my Ph.D. in Computer Science. First step is the comprehensive exams. 4 days of anonymously graded written exams (Theory, Hardware, Software, Math). Then I assembled most of my committee and did about 9 months of research culminating in a journal size paper, a presentation, and an oral exam in my subfield of Computer Science. Then a few more years of research and my dissertation defense (oral public seminar followed by grilling by my committee). During the dissertation process I wrote papers and presented research at Universities and at conferences (and got one journal article done).

    The defense committee, by University regulation, had an outside member--someone from outside the department (or University) who could give an objective accounting of whether what I had done was deserving of the degree. In my case I tapped a professor at another University whose research was in a related area.

    My experience is typical, but by no means standard--some schools use courses instead of exams. I had no course requirement--just had to pass the exams--students who entered 2 years after me had a course requirement (I should insert some cynical comment about FTUs here, but wont [​IMG] ). NSome Universities had abolished "dissertation defense"-- they just reqiure that you get the committee to sign off on it [paradoxically, I think this is tougher. In the defense system, some committee members can be relied upon to be lazy and just wait for the seminar to figure out what you've done--with the signiture system they've either got to read it or risk signing off on a piece of trash].

    The characteristics of most reputable programs that I can think of off the top iof my head would include:

    --Some form of assessment of required knowlege--either classes, exams, papers, perhaps degrees from certain schools (Cambridge, for example, where a graduate would have passed the Tripos exams to attain the Bachelors degree)

    --Some form of assessment of the dissertation by a group of scholars--At least some of whom should be in the area of the work and should be somewhat "disinterested parties" (I've seen this one stretched, although it shouldn't be).

    No reasion why a small school can't do this, but it needs good oversight.

  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Are you sure I said no one was paid? I couldn't have, because I don't have access to that information. Except, the faculty advisors are paid, as it is laid out in the Faculty Manual (which I've seen and edited). My concerns regarding MIGS were surrounding the number of full-time staff members. I think at least a small cadre are necessary to provide continuity and take care of day-to-day issues. It looks like MIGS will bring on staff as it brings on students, but since I don't do that stuff for them, I can't really be sure.


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