Monday, November 19, 2007

Ren Ci Ming Yi's Mannin University PhD

Double trouble for Ren Ci Hospital. Straits Times did a write-up on Ren Ci’s Venerable Ming Yi and the non-recognition of his Mannin University doctorate (PhD) in Singapore. It was reported that Ming Yi did not check if Mannin University or its PhD programmes were recognised here before he enrolled into them and he claimed that he did the PhD only for the sake of gaining knowledge.

Alright, I would give him the benefit of doubt that he did not intend to cheat on the management of Ren Ci but it is interesting to wonder why he chose the unknown Mannin University over other Singapore-recognised foreign universities for his Doctorate degree in Philosophy.

I always believe any rational graduate student who wishes to pursue a post-graduate course would check whether the Master’s or PhD course is accredited or not by first taking a look at its official website for information on its achievements and then obtain verification from Ministry of Education or any external agencies that the doctorate programme is indeed recognised here. Apparently, he did not.

Our attention might then be drawn to another possible misappropriation of funds by the Ren Ci’s management. Did it subsidise Ming Yi’s Mannin University studies? Did the management know that Mannin is not a recognised tertiary institution in Singapore? And even if they did know but allowed him to study on public funds on the basis of gaining knowledge, one question might arise. Does he even need the PhD to manage Ren Ci? But if the PhD course was financed out of his own pocket, there is seriously nothing for the public to worry about.

The following article was reported in The Straits Times by Theresa Tan:

Ren Ci chief in new controversy over PhD

THE Buddhist monk mired in controversy over irregularities in the books of the Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre is now facing another set of questions - over his doctorate. Venerable Ming Yi's resume says he holds a PhD in philosophy from a 'Mannin University' in Ireland, but checks by The Straits Times with the British Council, the Irish Embassy here and the Irish education authorities showed that neither the university nor its qualifications were recognised there.

Through a spokesman, Venerable Ming Yi said at the weekend that he did his doctorate through distance learning, but never checked if the university awarding the degree was recognised.

Readers have been writing in to ask about his PhD after The Sunday Times ran a profile on the Ren Ci chief on Nov 11. Netizens have also started questioning the credibility of his degree. Like other readers, education consultant Larry Lim said he had never heard of Mannin University. He said he had tried checking, but could not even find a website for it. 'It is highly questionable when a university does not even have a website. Does the university even exist?' he asked.

When The Straits Times asked the Irish Embassy here whether the university in question was real, the embassy said that the Irish Department of Education and Science did not recognise Mannin University or its qualifications. Ireland's Higher Education Authority, the statutory body for higher education and research there, said there were seven official universities in Ireland, and Mannin was not one of them.

Press officers for both the department and the University College Dublin, one of the seven recognised Irish universities, said they had never heard of Mannin University.

Recognised institutions aside, the Irish Department of Education and Science said that 'it cannot give advice on other organisations purporting to offer higher education programmes or comment on the quality of courses offered by such institutions'.

While Venerable Ming Yi's PhD qualifications are highlighted on several websites such as Wikipedia and Buddhist resource site Singapore Dharma Net, online searches for the university itself drew a blank.

But The Straits Times found on the Web two individuals who claimed to have graduated from Mannin University. One is the head of a group promoting human rights in the Maldives, and the other a man who runs a chain of gyms in Thailand. Neither could be reached for comment.

Venerable Ming Yi broke an earlier silence on the subject on Saturday after repeated queries by The Straits Times. Through a Ren Ci spokesman, he said that someone introduced him to the PhD programme at Mannin University while he was doing his master's in health-care management at the University of Wales, an accredited institution.

The spokesman said Venerable Ming Yi, a former student of Raffles Institution, did a distance learning course with Mannin University, but had never visited its campus. He would not give any more details on how the monk obtained the PhD. 'Venerable Ming Yi did the PhD as he wanted to learn more, but he did not check if the university or its degrees are recognised,' he said.

1 comment:

The Oriental Express said...

I was given the opportunity to do my M.A. in Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta after my B.A. I declined for I was more eager to start work.

Ignorance is no excuse. Another example of "Tak si chek - bei xi su!" You don't just marry a stranger without knowing his/her background. Likewise, no one would just pay thousands of dollars to a university that does not even have a website to its name!!!

I respect all my learned and brilliant professors. But for some, I guess PH.D could just simply mean permanent head damage! :-(