“Individuals and unaccredited institutions who are engaged in these activities (fake degrees) are academic voyeurs and pimps. It is an epidemic that is governed by ignorance, self-flattery, lack of shame and a complete erosion in the Ghanaian honour code system…aided by an uncritical media.” Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata, Assistant Professor of Communication, Valdosta State University, USA.
Before the Golgotha, there was a Gethsemane. It is appointed unto anybody seeking high academic honours to toil, labour and burn the proverbial midnight oil before they qualify to present themselves for the revered honour. It is a laborious and harrowing undertaking that requires an unusual combo of intellectual aptitude and emotional intelligence to survive the marking scheme of a supervisor who is a crossdresser.
PhD or ABD
The theoretical framework, literature review and methodology may have been cancelled several times. Before you finally get it right, you would have contemplated quitting the PhD programme many times. You are prepared to abandon it and settle for ABD (All But Dissertation). At least, you tried your best. You would be counted among the few ambitious people with above average intelligence for attempting a PhD.
There is some honour in being a PhD wannabe, even if you abandoned the punishing routine of pouring through boring research papers to settle for a career in industry. You would find that the salary of a university professor is not any bigger than a middle-level employee in the manufacturing and services sectors. You wonder whether all the fret and weariness in writing the comprehensive PhD examination, getting published in academic journals and defending a thesis had paid off when you see intellectually bankrupt buffoons driving in luxury vehicles you can never afford.
When finally you pass the dreaded defence of your research before ill-intentioned and grey-haired academics, it is joy incomparable. Academic orgasm. You feel fooled, stupefied and intellectually abused when a fraudster who does not know the difference between a hypothesis and a research question is able to afford the same distinguished honour of a PhD by pimping his way through the cheap world of academic voyeurism.
Four years of hell
While a genuine PhD programme takes some four (4) years, sometimes five (5) or six (6) years to complete, the pimps and degree fraudsters use a year or less to acquire theirs. They hold themselves high and undeservingly prefix their names with the revered PhD title to command the attention, respect and honour reserved for only those who labored to research and write a 400 page thesis.
You will never forget the subject of your thesis 20 years after graduation even if you were woken from a drunken stupor. It sticks to you like your name. Indeed, it becomes a part of you. If you have forgotten the subject of your dissertation or thesis, then you didn’t write it. You were never involved in the analysis of the research findings, which usually occupies the chapter four (4) of the thesis.
Dr. Prosper Tsikata will not forgive you if you got a PhD through the back door. The ghanabusinessnews alleges that celebrated human resource practitioner, Dr. Mrs. Ellen Hagan, may have acquired her PhD through a not-so-clear process. The news website reports that the HR guru “is using a doctorate degree acquired from an unaccredited institution” alleging that she “received a PhD in Humanities from the Pan African Bible Seminary (PABS) in a year that she could not readily recollect.”
The news organisation further alleges that the HR consultant “could not articulate clearly what her doctorate thesis was about except that as a marriage counsellor she decided to focus on the institution of marriage.” Checks by the online media outlet reveal some disturbing facts about the accreditation of institutions attended by professors who supervised Dr. Hagan’s thesis, which was undertake within a year.
They have generally been called diploma mills, but unaccredited institutions dishing out advanced degrees to lazy and dishonest people, are actually academic graves where hard and decent intellectual work is buried. Some of these unaccredited institutions accept payments in excess of $10,000 as compensation for the damage done scholarship and university learning. The people who receive these honours are as guilty as the institutions who dressed them in borrowed and in some cases stolen robes.
Where did the degree recipients go wrong if an institution such as PABS found them worthy and deserving of the honour and rewarded their good work with a PhD? How was Dr. Hagan supposed to know that BEPS was unaccredited? Is it her responsibility to research about the accreditation of universities in addition to her demanding job and other social pressures? Who allowed those institutions to operate in our midst to taint the rare scholarship of hardworking and studious intellectuals?
While fake degrees annoy us, we should be prepared to cut innocent recipients of unaccredited degrees some slack. Often, people who are given these honours are not exactly underserving of genuine academic degrees. Indeed, except in cases of calculated and systematic fraud, many of the victims of fake and unaccredited degrees have some capacity to undertake a PhD research.
PhD is not for everybody
I have some confidence in Mrs. Hagan’s intellectual abilities, judging by the numerous awards (more than 28) she has received in a distinguished career spanning some two (2) decades. She was once the CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year. In July this year, she was given the Yaa Asantewaa Ultimate Woman Award at the Exclusive Men of the Year Awards. The HR expert should be able to sit through lectures and pass a comprehensive examination for a real and accredited PhD programme.
A PhD sets a person apart; it is not for everybody, not even for the most decorated CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I have seen many accomplished professionals attempt a PhD and abandon the project midway. You will not be able to do a PhD because you have two (2) or three (3) Masters Degrees and other professional accomplishments. Not everybody has the patience to rewrite chapter 3 (Methodology) more than three times.
I have great respect for my ‘PhD friends’ because I appreciate hard and honest work. I have been rejected twice for a PhD in Social Policy by different Ivy League institutions. I recently applied to a lesser known university for a PhD in English. I hope they find me worthy. I have lived above reproach until I started thinking about a PhD.