Cherub College complains about ODA

Discussions on the value or merit of unaccredited programs and institutions.

Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby g-gollin » Sun Dec 25, 2011 3:52 pm

And you're quoting something actually said or written by ODA? Or is that just what you think they would say, if they were as silly as that?
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby Oregon » Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:45 pm

g-gollin wrote:Read up on the American University of Hawaii, transformed into the American University for Humanities, and its credentialing by the (no longer) USDE-approved AALE accreditor. Two articles in Inside Higher Ed and one from the Chronicle a few years ago. That'll tell you something.


Back to the herring of a different color. The treatment of AALE is one example of what's what's wrong with American accreditation. The American University for Humanities is listed as an applicant on the AALE website. I don't get it.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby Hungry Ghost » Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:55 pm

Oregon wrote:Why would a school located in another country ever have USDOE approved accreditation?


If a school is largely unknown outside its immediate region, then it probably does need some trusted third-party verification of its credibility.

The Oregon degree-use law requires schools to have either accreditation recognized by the US Secretary of Education, or else the foreign equivalent. That doesn't mean a simple license to operate, it means credible external quality assurance oversight.

That in turn is problematic for institutions in small nations that don't already have large well-established university sectors. If a small country doesn't have any universities, or perhaps only one or two of them, then it's unlikely that the country will even have the local equivalent of an American university accreditor. I think that we are seeing that situation illustrated with the Bahamas.

Small countries are also unlikely to have elaborate rules and regulations for the initial establishment of universities, since the issue has never come up. In some places, attracting educational institutions is seen as an economic development issue and the educational authorities are willing to approve virtually anything. In other places all that's required is a business license. So small jurisdictions can easily become hosts for proprietors of doubtful off-shore universities, many of which are mills. We've seen that happening repeatedly over the years.

The problem that places like Oregon are faced with is separating the wheat from the chaff. They face the task of determining which foreign schools are credible and which aren't. Schools can present ambiguous appearances and oftentimes it's difficult for people who aren't already familiar with them to determine what they truly are. It can require considerable investigation.

My own feeling is that people shouldn't just ridicule and trash unfamiliar schools, unless they can justify their doing so. But equally, they shouldn't just credulously accept everything they are told either. A defeasible skepticism is probably the best policy.

Those damn degree mills in Oxford and Cambridge somehow manage.


Of course both of them do have the equivalent of American regional accreditation, from Britain's Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the QAA.

But your example does suggest another important point. Educational quality and credibility are not the result of accreditation. That's getting things backwards. Accreditation is simply outside third-party verification of things that already exist.

Oxford and Cambridge obviously have no difficulty in demonstrating their institutional credibility in countless ways other than accreditation. Their facilities, histories, professors, graduates, collaborations, research productivity and recognition in the wider academic and professional communities all speak to it.

These two 800 year old universities don't really need accreditation. It's helpful I guess and gives them some feedback on how they are doing. But they don't need it.

The schools that do need accreditation are the many little degree-grantors that are largely unknown outside their own local areas. To people half the world away, their appearance can be indistinguishable from mills. Cherub might fall into this category.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby SteveFoerster » Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:32 pm

g-gollin wrote:And you're quoting something actually said or written by ODA? Or is that just what you think they would say, if they were as silly as that?

Of course they don't actually say that, and considering how indefensible it is, it's no wonder. What they also don't say, however, is what their criteria are for determining whether another country's system of higher education is the equivalent to the U.S. one, and in the absence of that, there's no way to conclude it's anything other than arbitrary, especially when their personnel are limited and don't specialize in international education.

ODA not saying what their criteria are, and then placing Cherub and other schools that are clearly at least potentially the equivalent to accredited U.S. schools, is unfair to the schools and to the people of Oregon who might otherwise consider enrolling in them. There are ways for them to do this sort of thing that would pass the straight face test. Not publishing their criteria isn't one of them.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby Bill Huffman » Mon Dec 26, 2011 5:58 pm

SteveFoerster wrote:
g-gollin wrote:And you're quoting something actually said or written by ODA? Or is that just what you think they would say, if they were as silly as that?

Of course they don't actually say that, and considering how indefensible it is, it's no wonder. What they also don't say, however, is what their criteria are for determining whether another country's system of higher education is the equivalent to the U.S. one, and in the absence of that, there's no way to conclude it's anything other than arbitrary, especially when their personnel are limited and don't specialize in international education.

ODA not saying what their criteria are, and then placing Cherub and other schools that are clearly at least potentially the equivalent to accredited U.S. schools, is unfair to the schools and to the people of Oregon who might otherwise consider enrolling in them. There are ways for them to do this sort of thing that would pass the straight face test. Not publishing their criteria isn't one of them.


I thought Hungry Ghost's post had a most excellent explanation for why the ODA cannot reasonably blindly accept the quality of unknown institutions in some jurisdictional areas that don't provide any oversight of academic quality.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby SteveFoerster » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:13 am

Bill Huffman wrote:I thought Hungry Ghost's post had a most excellent explanation for why the ODA cannot reasonably blindly accept the quality of unknown institutions in some jurisdictional areas that don't provide any oversight of academic quality.

And how did they determine that the Bahamas is such a jurisdiction? Oh right, they won't tell us. And do they list every school in the Bahamas? No, only those that "come to their attention," whatever that means. It's all arbitrary, and there's no place whatsoever for arbitrariness in public oversight.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby Bill Huffman » Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:52 am

SteveFoerster wrote:
Bill Huffman wrote:I thought Hungry Ghost's post had a most excellent explanation for why the ODA cannot reasonably blindly accept the quality of unknown institutions in some jurisdictional areas that don't provide any oversight of academic quality.

And how did they determine that the Bahamas is such a jurisdiction? Oh right, they won't tell us. And do they list every school in the Bahamas? No, only those that "come to their attention," whatever that means. It's all arbitrary, and there's no place whatsoever for arbitrariness in public oversight.


Sometimes there are complicated situations that require judgement. When a policeman pulls over a motorist, they sometimes use judgement as to what type of ticket to write or even if a ticket should be written in this particular case. I believe that allowing an officer the flexibility to sometimes use his/her professional judgment is a good thing. If you ask a police officer why he gave a ticket in some situations but not others, I'll bet that you'd rarely get an answer because it is in their best interest not to give an answer. My view is that it is seems to be a similar situation here with the ODA.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby SteveFoerster » Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:52 pm

So to you, for ODA to make decisions about schools and entire countries, sometime this way and sometimes that way, for this to be based on their judgment, and for them not to explain their decisions because it's not in their interest, somehow this is good government?

Look, I understand the idea that ODA opposes mills, and therefore seem like the good guys to many of those who oppose mills. I don't like mills either. But that doesn't mean that it's okay for ODA to act like some sort of black ops star chamber. I may not agree with the disclaimer, but at least I recognize that it's not arbitrary. Their blacklists, though, are arbitrary, and they should be radically overhauled, or better still, removed. They could at least start by correcting the errors that have already been brought to their attention!
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby Hungry Ghost » Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:04 pm

The thing is, if a jurisdiction doesn't possess a local oversight process equivalent to university accreditation, nobody will know what to make of unknown schools boasting addresses in that jurisdiction. So people have little choice but to judge these things on a case-by-case basis.

Theoretically that's what Oregon is doing. It accepts the judgement of what it believes are credible accreditors and then tells graduates of unaccredited schools (domestic or foreign) that they can't use their degrees in Oregon without disclaimer unless the ODA takes a look at their school first and passes on it. I don't know what kind of process that is, but I don't think that it's very rigorous.

The place where problems really start to arise is when Oregon posts the names of apparently-unexamined unknown-schools on what appears to be and is widely interpreted as a listing of mills. (As may be the case with Cherub.) That's what they need to stop doing. They also need to react to changing events with more adroitness and simply remove schools from their list when they attain recognized accreditation. (As appears to be the situation with VIU.)

Ideally, they probably should just eliminate the list entirely. Or else they need to be certain that it only names schools that can be shown to be 'mills' according to Oregon's own legal definition. At present, they don't seem to be doing that and there doesn't seem to be very much consistency about what initially gets schools' names onto the list or about how to get names off once they are there.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby Bill Huffman » Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:36 am

It is not intended to be nor has it ever been advertised by the ODA to be a list of diploma mills. It is simply a partial list of schools that have been brought to the ODA's attention that require the use of the disclaimer when a degree from there is used within Oregon.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby SteveFoerster » Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:20 pm

Bill Huffman wrote:It is not intended to be nor has it ever been advertised by the ODA to be a list of diploma mills. It is simply a partial list of schools that have been brought to the ODA's attention that require the use of the disclaimer when a degree from there is used within Oregon.

The thing is, by "ODA" we mean Alan Contreras. Well, he's gone. And those who remain have left that list to decay because they don't know what to do with it. We all know it was primarily supposed to be a list of mills. It should either be taken seriously and updated carefully, or they should pull it and simply direct people to the CHEA search page.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby Bill Huffman » Sat Dec 31, 2011 6:52 am

SteveFoerster wrote:
Bill Huffman wrote:It is not intended to be nor has it ever been advertised by the ODA to be a list of diploma mills. It is simply a partial list of schools that have been brought to the ODA's attention that require the use of the disclaimer when a degree from there is used within Oregon.

The thing is, by "ODA" we mean Alan Contreras. Well, he's gone. And those who remain have left that list to decay because they don't know what to do with it. We all know it was primarily supposed to be a list of mills. It should either be taken seriously and updated carefully, or they should pull it and simply direct people to the CHEA search page.


It was never a list of mills. It does have mills in the list. At one time it contained a comments for a small percentage of entries indicating they were considered mills. It was never titled/labeled/advertised by the ODA as a list of mills. Sorry, no matter how many times you try to make that false claim it will not make it true. The only reason that I try to emphasize the point is that I think it may be near the core of our disagreement of what the list is and what it's intended purpose is, at least from my understanding.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby Hungry Ghost » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:19 pm

Bill Huffman wrote:It was never a list of mills.


It's always been a list of mills and it's a list of mills right now. I mean, take a look at it:

http://www.osac.state.or.us/oda/unaccredited.aspx

It does have mills in the list.


With a tiny handful of exceptions, that's just about all that it is. Identifying which names comprise those exceptions is going to be very controversial, which is a big part of the problem.

At one time it contained a comments for a small percentage of entries indicating they were considered mills. It was never titled/labeled/advertised by the ODA as a list of mills. Sorry, no matter how many times you try to make that false claim it will not make it true.


They may not have ever formally called it a list of mills, probably because doing so would have made their office more vulnerable to lawsuits. But if the great majority of what they choose to list appear in fact to be mills, then essentially it's a list of mills, whatever label is put atop it.
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Mills of yesteryear

Postby g-gollin » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:30 pm

Hungry Ghost wrote:They may not have ever formally called it a list of mills, probably because doing so would have made their office more vulnerable to lawsuits. But if the great majority of what they choose to list appear in fact to be mills, then essentially it's a list of mills, whatever label is put atop it.


Some years ago (2003 or 2004, I believe) the list DID explicitly identify some degreee providers as diploma mills. Oregon has a definition of the terms "diploma mill" and "degree mill" in the Oregon Administrative Rules; see OAR 583-050-0011:

(11) "Diploma mill" or "degree mill" means an entity that meets any one of the following conditions as defined in ORS 348.594:

(a) A school against which a court or public body, as defined in ORS 174.109, has issued a ruling or finding, after due process procedures, that the school has engaged in dishonest, fraudulent or deceptive practices related to the award of degrees, academic standards or student learning requirements; or

(b) Is an entity without legal authority as a school to issue degrees valid as credentials in the jurisdiction that authorizes issuance of degrees.


Note that there is no measure of academic quality in the definition, only whether the degree provider has been found to have "engaged in dishonest, fraudulent or deceptive practices related to the award of degrees, academic standards or student learning requirements" or that the school issues credentials without the legal authority to do so.

I don't think the definition could possibly be more clear than that, though it did let in the beasties that used to have Wyoming or Alabama licenses back in the day, before those states toughened their standards.

If ODA doesn't say that some list is a list of mills, then they're not saying it's a list of mills.

Just because someone else says it is doesn't make it so. People used to say the world is flat. Robert Ray Hill said he was innocent of having me “awarded the Honorary Scientific Degree of Grand PhD and Full Professor of WIDU,” blaming it on a hacker. Richard Hoyer emailed my school from the very same (Rochester ISP) IP address that a Willey named Taylor used when he wrote and claimed he was in Russia.

They said what they said, but that didn't make it true.
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Re: Cherub College complains about ODA

Postby Bill Huffman » Sat Dec 31, 2011 11:32 pm

That is core of the difference of opinion then. It is not officially a list of mills. Some have interpreted it as a list of mills. Criticizing the ODA because someone chooses to interpret it as a list of mills when it is not labeled as a list of mills seems "off the mark" to me?
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