Director resigns after University of Wales concerns
The executive director of a Malaysian college offering University of Wales degree courses has resigned after questions about his own qualifications. Fazley Yaakob, a pop star who runs the Fazley International College (FIC) in Kuala Lumpur, has two degrees from a bogus university. Week In Week Out examined the way in which the University of Wales validated courses in overseas institutions. The university has said concerns relate solely to Yaakob and not the courses. The programme reveals that Yaakob claimed to have both a masters and a doctorate in business administration. But both were from a bogus university.
Fadzley Yaakob, who has four hit albums to his name, claimed to have qualifications from the European Business School (Cambridge), an offshoot of the Irish International University - which was exposed as a sham by the BBC in 2008. He said the University of Wales did not ask about his credentials, which were displayed prominently on the college website, until he was confronted by BBC Wales' education correspondent Ciaran Jenkins in Kuala Lumpur In his resignation letter, Yaakob said: "My role in Fazley International College is one of an investor.
"Though I hold a director's position, I have never been a part of the academic team nor have I sat at any of the academic meetings.
"As such, you can be assured that at no stage was the academic standards or the reputation of the university put at a compromise. To be honest I have only sat in at management meetings.
"Upon further reflection, I consider that to continue as a director could be damaging to the college, its student community and the dedicated staff who have worked hard to uphold the academic standards and integrity.
"It is quite clear that this continuing public controversy will undermine the reputation and the good relations between the college and the university, which I cannot, in any circumstances, allow.
"Therefore, I have decided to tender my resignation as the executive director of the college.
"It is my intention to keep fighting to clear my name and restore public confidence of my reputation.
"I sincerely apologise for having caused the university and its officials embarrassment.
"I do hope that the matter will be laid to rest and that the link between the university and FIC can be restored."
The University of Wales has suspended its relationship with the college - one of three educational institutions it collaborates with in Malaysia - following the controversy. The university signed an agreement with FIC in 2007 and saw the first students admitted to its validated courses the following year, having gained provisional approvals from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. But it has now decided not to recognise any additional admissions to its BA (Hons) Business Administration and MBA courses at the college until concerns have been fully investigated. The 35 students currently enrolled on University-validated courses will not be affected.
University vice chancellor Marc Clement said: "The principal doesn't himself teach on the course and I don't want to pre-judge the case, but I've taken this decision as a precaution to protect the reputation of the University of Wales.
"We are proud of the work we're doing internationally to take the educational values of a great Welsh institution to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to study on validated courses, and it is important this mission isn't diluted by doubts about any of collaborative centres.
"Our validation team is experienced and highly skilled and travels regularly to collaborative centres to check the quality of the provision and work with local people to build capacity.
"Their job is to validate the courses we recognise, not the institution itself, and we're confident the university's validated courses at FIC meet our high academic standards.
"Our concern relates solely to the fact that the head of the institution has informed us of a controversy relating to his personal academic qualifications.
"This would not normally be relevant to the validation process, but we feel we have a duty to go beyond the letter of our rules so that the integrity of our courses is beyond any doubt."
The University is the second largest degree awarding body in the UK after the University of London. In 2010, it awarded 20,000 degrees and other awards and had around 70,000 people studying on its courses, of which 13,704 were on validated programmes outside the UK.
A review from Malaysian Insider:
Who are the University of Wales?
The University of Wales is an accreditation body, under which leading universities in Wales all grouped under. However, in recent years, Cardiff University, Aberyswyth University, Bangor University and a few others have broken away from the University of Wales and provide their own degrees.
As part of a strategy to stay in business, the University of Wales now accreditates degrees provided by international institutions by way of an academic partnership — they validate the degree, but do not have anything to do with the delivery.
Why is Fazley Yaakob’s PhD an issue?
Truth be told, I don’t know. Fact: Fazley does not teach at the university — he is just management, so it has no bearing on the academic courses. The college’s teaching staff are fully qualified, so Fazley’s PhD is irrelevant.
But here’s another thing. Fact: The University of Wales has struggled of late to justify their existence, as top universities are no longer being accredited by them. Theory: They are trying to stay away from scandals and dodgy figures.
There is a possibility that Fazley’s Masters and PhD have been thrown into the whole melee as they try to distance themselves from anyone related to Irish International University, who are not really a university.
Is Fazley’s Masters and PhD /DBA bogus?
Let me answer this in the following way: He obtained both of the above qualifications from European Business School – Cambridge, which has been exposed by the BBC as being a sister institution to the aforementioned Irish International University, who have been exposed as running a scam and awarding bogus degrees. You do the maths.
Do I believe the degrees are bogus?
In a word — yes. Bogus in the sense that the degrees purport to represent the achievement that is the culmination of a process that never happened. If you are studying for an undergraduate degree, then the expectation is that you undergo a four-year course of study, or three years in some places. If you do a PhD, the expectation is that you produce a thesis after three years of research. You get my drift.
My institution, as well as many if not all of the others, would be a laughing stock if we hired anyone from the above institutions to work as a member of academic staff. Similarly, any student applying to do a PhD with a masters from the aforementioned school would be rejected, there and then.
So if his degrees are bogus, why was he allowed to open a college?
These are two very different things. Bogus degrees just mean they’re worthless in the world of academia. Fazley is not an academic, he is a businessman, an entrepreneur. He does not need a PhD to open a college. Anyone can, even me. Wait, bad example.
But my point is, anyone can. You just need capital; it’s opening a business. What he has to ensure is that his teaching staff are properly qualified — and to the best of my knowledge, they are. I’ll say it again — you don’t need a doctorate to open a private college, you just need to be a good businessman.
So conspiracy theories about this being a “cover up” or that he got his licence using the back door … that is balls. So don’t question the legitimacy of his college. I’m quite confident it’s legit.
So where’s the beef?
The beef, to me, is in the way he has failed to clarify that his PhD was not obtained via traditional means, and has had no shame in using the prefix Dr in front of his name. Many people really thought he had a bog-standard PhD, and that he was an academic in that sense. I haven’t seen proof of him ever clarifying this.
Fazley is seen as an idol for many young people, not just because he is a pop star, but because he is an “educated” young man and a resourceful entrepreneur. He is considered a motivational expert, drawing upon his experience to inspire people to succeed. But he hasn’t quite done the time, has he? There’s the swindle there, there’s the beef. Because the tragedy of this is two-fold.
First, all he’s proven to the people he has inspired is, if you got money, anything goes in this world.
And second, Fazley Yaakob is a smart guy. Intelligent. He scored 8As in his SPM during a time when 10As were a rarity. He was awarded a scholarship by Renong — a prestigious award for only the best — to study in New Zealand. If he wanted to do a Masters and obtain a PhD/DBA the normal way, I’d have little hesitation in saying I am pretty damn sure he would have been able to succeed. But he chose a different way.
So, in sum
This has got nothing to do with his college. It’s about him, and his own personal integrity.
And as for anyone wanting to run the “ini usaha menjatuhkan usahawan Bumiputera” line — think about it: Siapa tipu siapa sebenarnya? Siapa yang jatuhkan siapa?
“Kaum lain sedang bertepuk tangan gelakkan kita”? Memang kena gelak, sebab kita kena tipu. Jangan marah orang yang marah sebab kena tipu. Marahlah orang yang cuba menipu.
Reflect on this: Lebih sanggupkah melihat orang ramai terus ditipu demi menjaga “maruah bangsa”? The media will spin this story a million ways to Sunday — they are already saying the BBC are out to get him. Really? The BBC? Yes I know he has four hit albums but no, he’s not that big.
Tak perlulah keluarkan statement, Melayu nak jatuhkan Melayu. The truth is? Dia menjatuhkan diri sendiri dengan menggunakan gelaran Dr. when he had no right to it.
Fazley, in his resignation statement, said nothing about denying the degrees were bogus. I take that as a tacit admission that they are. So what can he do now? Maybe do a proper Masters and PhD. Like I said, he’s smart enough. And when he’s gone through the process of doing a PhD like others have, he can finally chalk this bogus degree episode as “life experience”.
* Idlan Zakaria is a columnist at The Malaysian Insider.