[EDITORIALS]Degree-peddling

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[EDITORIALS]Degree-peddling

The Korea Independent Commission against Corruption has asked the prosecutors office to investigate allegations that the president of a national university, before he was named to the post, received money from students in return for brokering fake doctor's degrees from a Russian university. The prosecutors have not yet started an investigation into the matter and the president has denied all the allegations. If they are true, they would have a devastating impact on our educational system.

The commission's case against the president reportedly revolves around the president's help in getting doctorates for 25 students, most of whom speak no Russian and have not finished the course work required by the Russian university. The only link most of the students had with the Russian school was an annual six- or seven-day trip to Russia.

These "ghost" doctorates are questionable at best and phony at worst. The president allegedly received 30 million to 40 million won from each of these students, for a total of 700 million won ($580,000).

The president's alleged actions would be a shameless and amoral crime. Even if it occurred before he became president, who could respect a university that is being run by such a person? And how could the quality of education at the school be seen as acceptable when several of these false doctorate holders are currently teaching as professors there?

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources is also at fault. How could such fake doctorates have escaped their attention and been registered as proper ones? These allegations were, in fact, brought up last April during the process of the man's appointment as a university head, but were dismissed on the president's word that they were not true.

The commission's first action after its launch was to accuse three senior officials of influence-peddling; the prosecutors cleared the persons involved. In this case, it may have done better to report the university president to the prosecutors without publicity. But the prosecutors must look into the matter thoroughly and cut out any rotten parts it finds in our education system.

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