Unaccredited Degrees Are Legal

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by russ, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Morgan Khanstein

    Morgan Khanstein New Member

    Thank you Rich.

    Best -
  2. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Do you have an opinion on whether a school like K-W should be able to advertise a college degree? Is there, in your opinion, a "reasonable man" argument to be made that K-W promising a college degree is a fraudulent practice? That is, should a reasonable person expect from K-W a degree with the utility of an RA degree?

    This debate has so far failed to distinguish between what should be allowed (government action) and what by nature occurs in the real world of give-and-take among individuals or between individuals and institutions. We've failed to determine on what basis a school like K-W might legitimately be banned or restricted in some jurisdiction. If the banning or restriction is not on the basis of fraud then I can't think of a reason for any banning or restriction.
  3. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    You can tell me anything that you want to. Whether or not I pay attention depends on whether or not I find your position persuasive.

    That sounds ambiguous to me.

    If you are simply saying that an individual isn't violating the law if he or she presents a degree from a non-accredited school to a prospective employer, then I agree in the great majority of cases.

    But if you are suggesting that a school's degrees are valid academic credentials simply because they were granted in accordance with some local law, then I disagree vehemently.

    The legality of the awarding process doesn't imply the validity of the award.

    Or employers could save themselves a lot of work and simply reject non-accredited degrees.

    'We' is anyone (individual or organization) that's in the position of having to make a judgement about the validity of somebody else's academic credentials.

    If the credentials aren't accepted as valid, then what happens would depend on the situation: A job candidate isn't hired. A client doesn't accept somebody's professional services. An author is considered less authoritative. Or whatever's appropriate. It depends on why the education was considered important in the first place.

    Of course, most individuals aren't in any position to carefully evaluate universities and specialized university programs. And even if they were, the workload of doing it for a large number of candidates would be oppressive.

    What happens here in the United States is that the academic community and the professional organizations have formed accrediting associations. Schools that are operating legally somewhere may voluntarily choose to submit to inspection by one or more of these these accrediting bodies. If the school passes the inspection, that fact is published in the accreditors' directories. And employers, clients and any other interested individuals use these directories to get a pretty good indicaion of whether or not particular schools and programs are academically valid.

    If employers or clients choose to consider schools that aren't on the accreditors' lists, and if they care about academic validity (and why value the degree if they don't?), then they are going to need some alternative kind of evidence that particular non-accredited university programs are valid. It's up to them what they choose to accept, and it's up to the school and its graduates to satisfy them.
  4. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member


    I think that you are using the correct approach but without seeing some evidence, I really can't form an opinion.

    I am attracted to your idea that a student enrolling in KW is entitled to expect to receive a degree that will have roughly the same utility that any other recognized degree at the same level and in the same field would have in the academy or business and professional worlds. Certainly KW's website seems designed to imply that very thing.

    Now this raises an interesting point. I am unaware of ANY state board of engineering that has actually recognized the KW engineering bachelor's degree as qualifying an applicant to take the F/E exam. A board MIGHT give some experience credit for the KW degree, I don't really know, but no board is likely to treat the KW degree as equivalent to an ABET degree. (There's always New Hampshire, to be sure, but ANYONE can take the NH F/E exam. The trouble comes later when it's time for the P/E)

    But a bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline is a professional as well as academic credential. On this ground ALONE, KW's claim to offering an equivalent education appears to be false. A KW bachelor's in engineering is objectively not equivalent to ANY ABET degree.

    Of course, if I would have to reach exactly the opposite conclusion if I were presented with specific examples of KW engineering graduates qualifying for the F/E exam on the basis of their KW degrees ALONE and not in combination with years of engineering experience.
  5. Morgan Khanstein

    Morgan Khanstein New Member

    I would sincerely suggest that individuals seeking a degree for entry level positions (as implied by the F/E exam) not pursue higher education via an UA school.

    However, if one has passed beyond that stage, and one's competencies can be readily demonstrated, why not? This is why I appreciate PWU's marketing over KWU.
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    The argument these days isn't about whether or not to accept degrees from unaccredited schools. It would be silly to do so as a policy. The argument is why certain schools are not accredited. To wit:

    What is it that Kennedy-Western University does that is so unique and important that (a) its degrees should be accepted as comparable to those from accredited schools and (b) its non-pursuit of accreditation should be a given. Is K-WU doing something (legitimate) that other, accredited schools are not? Are they a real alternative? Why isn't K-WU accredited? What prevents them from being accredited? Here are some of the possible reasons (and why I reject them)

    Cost: Accreditation is expensive. Well, it's not. It is expensive to be financially solvent to the point where an accreditor would consider your school trustworthy, but the process is merely a drop in the bucket for most schools. Kennedy-Western's revenues are likely quite huge, given the amount of advertising they do, the number of students they have, and the number of gradautes they claim. Certainly cost cannot be a factor.

    Nontraditional Delivery System: No way. There are, right now, RA schools delivering bachelor's, master's, and doctorates via online learning, some without any residency at all. There's nothing K-WU does that isn't also being done at TUI or NCU.

    Nontraditional Content: Again, no way. There's nothing alternative or nontraditional about awarding degrees in business, engineering, and the like. Unlike a few California-approved niche schools, there's nothing alternative or unusual about K-WU's slate of degree programs.

    Really, this leaves us with only one other choice, Insufficient Processes. The processes for awarding credits and degrees used by Kennedy-Western are not worthy of recognition as a degree-granting school. Awarding life experience credit without verifying and evaluating the experiences. Awarding bachelor's degrees based upon a handful of courses and writing a paper. Conducting courses that are little more than reading a textbook and answering some questions. Conducting doctoral programs without sufficient guidance and supervision. It is these things that make an operation like Kennedy-Western something other than a university.

    People who are connected to such schools bear the awful responsibility for justifying such things. I'm sorry for them. They can't utter a contrary word. As a critic of Union Institute, I know that the school is strong enough to withstand the criticisms of its stakeholders. But an operation like Kennedy-Western relies on its faithful followers. They all have a big investment in the illusion; a little bit of reality from within can bring it all down.

    Schools like Kennedy-Western (and Century, SCUPS, and California Pacific--one of my faves--and others) are not unaccredited because they operate in some equal-but-alternative fashion. They're unaccredited because what they do is not accreditable. Just look at what CCU had to do to get DETC accreditation, and look at what happened when Century and SCUPS failed.

    Unaccredited DL schools are not alternatives. Not anymore. Instead, they're poor substitutes, whose main value is that they issue diplomas that simulate real degrees from real schools.
  7. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member


    Violating what law? Law based on what legal premise? Fraud? If not fraud then what possible basis could there be for such a disallowing law?

    If it's not illegal then it is valid.

    Degrees are not granted in accordance to "local laws."

    Valid to whom?

    We've covered this, Bill. There is what is legal and there is what individuals and institutions decide to accept. There is no other "validity."

    Yes they could. They are adults and they don't need me, you or any government agency to so inform them.

    And "we" do have to make those judgments. If someone tells me they have a Harvard degree then I must check with Harvard if I want to know the truth. If I am the employer then there is no getting around the fact that I must check the claimed credentials of my employees or prospective employees if I want the truth. Nothing can spare me that.


    The reality is that you have to check if you want to know.

    Interested parties may check those directories for accreditation but validity is a judgment call.

    Yes, the situation is as you state.
  8. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    It's easy to imagine a full-frontal degree-mill that legally sells degrees in a jurisdiction that doesn't regulate such things. Somebody purchases one of those phony degrees. Presumably that purchase is legal as well.

    But what about the subsequent possession of the degree? How does someone possess something as intangible as a degree? The diploma sure, but the degree itself? Doesn't possession of a degree represent possession of socially ascribed qualities? Doesn't possession of a degree suggest that other people should infer something about the possessor's education? Probably a great deal turns on whether or not the graduate ever makes the degree-mill degree public, and to whom. But it does look like some potential danger is creeping in.

    It seems to me that publicizing a degree-mill degree is basically the equivalent of telling a lie, an intentional untruth. But is lying illegal, in and of itself?

    Suppose that somebody presents a degree mill degree to a prospective employer or client. And suppose that the employer or client suffers real damages directly as a result of the graduate's incompetence and indirectly as a result of incorrectly trusting the academic validity of the degree. There's probably all kinds of potential fraud and tortuous negligence lurking in there. We're moving well beyond legal now.

    And pretty clearly not every degree is valid for every purpose. Just because somebody earns an RA but not-ABA law degree in California, from LaVerne perhaps, doesn't mean that every state bar outside California has to accept that J.D. degree as valid education for admission to practice in their state. The fact that LaVerne is impeccably legal in California doesn't compel other states in the least. Licensing boards routinely create their own standards and not every legal degree, or every accredited degree for that matter, satisfies them. So it's certainly possible for degrees to be legal, but nevertheless to be legally unsatisfactory.
  9. Morgan Khanstein

    Morgan Khanstein New Member

  10. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

  11. JimS

    JimS New Member

    Are your degrees in psychology? What is the basis for your opinion regarding how the students of unaccredited schools feel or are motivated?
  12. Jake_A

    Jake_A New Member

    Ummmm, ................

    Common sense?
    Common experience?
    Common knowledge?
    Common occurrences?

    .... Then again, common sense may not be common at all .....

  13. uncle janko

    uncle janko member


    Also, Dr Douglas has an earned doctorate ON distance education from an RA school, and one of the members of his doctoral committee was Dr John Bear, arguably (?) the leading expert in the field of distance education.*

    * At least until his daughter catches up with him.
  14. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    My personal opinion (I know you didn't ask for mine but here it is anyway.) is that KWU does not offer college degrees. They are not a college or a university. The degrees they bestow are below standard and are not Bachelor's, Master's, or doctorate degrees. It is misleading and untrue to call them such. This is fraud in my opinion and should not be permitted. They have other practices that are misleading and if you listen to the past Senate hearings, I think that the testimony was clear on that point.
  15. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Now that is a definite statement; a position taken.

    A course of action, for people who agree, could be to contact the Attorney General's office of their State to inquire as to why K-W is being allowed to engage in misleading/fraudulent practices in their State. No extra agencies, commissars or tax-sucking nudniks required.
  16. DaveHayden

    DaveHayden New Member

    I agree there is little need for a lot of extra bureacracy although I think the ODA does a rather efficent job. K-W has dug themselves a nice little foxhole with the money they spread around. That doesn't mean the FBI or other authority won't come knocking which would be good to see.
  17. Jake_A

    Jake_A New Member

    Residents of the State of Wyoming (and others) may want to contact:

    Wyoming Consumer Protection Unit (CPU):

    Attorney General's Office
    123 Capitol
    200 W. 24th Street
    Cheyenne, WY 82002
    (307) 777-7841
    (307) 777-6869 FAX
    (307) 777-5351 TDD

    Why contact Wyoming's CPU?

    (1) KW"U" claims on its website that "......... Hundreds of corporations have evaluated Kennedy-Western’s programs through their personnel and employee relations departments,....." Is this the plain truth, truth-in-advertising, deceit, or fraud? Worth investigating ......

    (2) KW"U" appears to be widely bandying about its Wyoming state license as some sort of a de-facto "state-approval" or "state academic accreditation" or something else that it is not. Is this the plain truth, truth-in-advertising, deceit, or fraud? Worth investigating ......

    On said website, KW"U" states, under the following webpage title (which appears to be carefully crafted to be almost deceptive, in my opinion),
    "Academic Integrity and Government Regulatory Oversight"

    .... and goes on to state ......

    "........ This professional recognition also owes to the fact that the University is licensed through the Wyoming State Department of Education, under W.S. 21-2-401 through 21-2-407. Such oversight requires Kennedy-Western to meet the standards as indicated within Article 4: Private School Licensing."

    Residents of the good state of Wyoming (and others) may want to critically read said applicable Wyoming State statutes on licensing which can be found here

    Said Wyoming statutes clearly state that the Wyoming licence to operate is not to be construed to mean anything other than what it is, license to operate, not state-approval or state-recognition of academic integrity.

    Is KW"U''s advertising using its Wyoming license the plain truth, truth-in-advertising, crafted to deceive, or fraudulent? Worth investigating because some consumers need protections, (governmental or otherwise).

  18. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    The New York State Dept. of Education has been efficient but it's also served to lock in bureauracies and special interests. IOW, it becomes over time about politics and not education.

    Good point. K-W does operate interstate so if they're engaging in any fraudulent practices then the FBI might get involved.
  19. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    In short, I have counseled thousands of adult students regarding higher education. I have conducted a very comprehensive survey of graduates of six nontraditional schools, four of which were unaccredited. (Not my doctoral dissertation, but another survey conducted as part of my degree program.) Plus, I hold a Ph.d. specializing in this field.

    I suspect that is considerably more "basis" than you can drum up. What, if anything, have you done in this field that we can verify?
  20. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    This thread has gone through a number of twists and I don't mind saying that I haven't followed them all that closely. However, in regards to the above point, the question of the need or lack of need of additional regulatory bureaucracy, I would like to point out that this forum and this thread serve in that purpose. It provides valuable information that many use to make important decisions in their lives. Regardless of which side of an issue people adopt/argue, the debate itself has value in that it provides some in-depth examination of issues that ultimately result in people making (better) informed decisions. In this regard we should be thankful for those who disagree with us, including the shills and the trolls as they provide an opportunity to present the facts and the arguments so that yet another wave of newbies can benefit from lessons learned by more experienced members. Thanks to all.

    OK, was that sappy enough? Now I have to go to the lumberyard and buy a bunch of 2x4's.
    (decimon - this is why I don't mind the fact that philosophical debates frequently go unresolved. The process itself has value.)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2005

Share This Page