This is What Tar and Feathering is For

I get disgusted when I see articles like this recent article in The Economist on how Bogus degrees from non-existent colleges cause headaches for employers.

It’s bad enough when a job candidate, who is actually a con-person, lies about a degree — either by leaving off the field or specialization of the degree in the hopes that you’ll believe an accounting degree was actually a computer science degree (as a certain high-tech CEO did) or by claiming to have a degree from a college / private institution that is no longer in business or, better yet, just had a fire and lost all the records.

But when someone sells a fake degree from a fake institution, as the nine people who stood trial in China in April did, that calls for a public tar and feathering. It’s disgusting. A degree is not only something that should be earned (which is why I also get upset when a celebrity who went to a certain institution gets a degree in something they don’t really know anything about, or the catch all Doctor of Letters degree, just because they are famous*), but something that should be certified as granting the holder a certain degree of knowledge and capability. You should be able to go to a registered, and reasonably respected, body and ascertain that the institution or individual in question had the authority to grant the degree, which conveys that whomever awarded the degree had a reasonable understanding of the knowledge required to verify that the recipient met the minimum requirements for the degree and was worthy.

And if I wasn’t livid enough after reading this point, you can bet I was ranting like a madman after reading that, in China, the really shrewd conmen have gone beyond simply selling fake degrees from fake universities, to pretending to offer real degrees from real, accredited, institutions. In one situation, a group of 68 students had been paying to attend class at what they thought was a programme affiliated with the Shangdong Institute of Light Industry (SILI). After four years they found out that everything about the programme had been a scam, and that the man behind the scheme had vanished. If you buy a degree, and get ripped off, that’s your problem. But in this case, a very enterprising conman leased a building, found some equipment, hired an instructor (who was probably qualified enough to teach the classes), and, as far as I can tell, literally offered the SILI degree program. Yes, the fake institute was not affiliated with SILI, but if the students came out of the four-year fake program with the same skills and knowledge as the students who went through the real-program, they have earned the degree as much as their peers — but because they didn’t get accepted into, and pay, the real institute, they’re screwed. In this situation, they should be allowed equivalency examinations, and get the degree if they pass, but you know this is not going to happen unless they pay the full degree cost — all over again. In this case, we not only need tar and feathering, but the walk of shame through the capital — end to end. Then comes the jail time and mandatory repayments, with damages.

Short story — don’t ever, EVER, EVER offer a fake degree or certification, because if the doctor finds out, he will make sure that the entire world knows and report you to every certification body, law enforcement authority, and regulatory body he can find the phone number or e-mail for and make sure you, or your institution, is publicly humiliated. This goes double if you offer fake degrees or certifications in Supply Management, or make false claims about what a certified or degreed individual will be able to do after obtaining your certification or degree. You have been warned!

* My readers who, like the doctor, earned their Ph.D. (and paid for it in blood, sweat, hair, and mental health) will understand!