Revocation of academic equivalences can be avoided

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Revocation of academic equivalences can be avoided
Revocation of academic equivalences can be avoided

Africa-Press – Rwanda. The Higher Education Council (HEC) this week revoked academic equivalences for graduates from United States’ Atlantic International University. This came days after the Rwanda Investigation Bureau announced they had arrested one Egide Igabe over forgery of academic papers.

While Igabe is expected to be produced before court anytime soon, HEC has clarified they did not issue him with an academic equivalence of his AIU-issued doctorate degree.

HEC’s statement about the matter seems to support RIB’s position that the suspect forged his academic equivalence. But that’s a matter for courts to settle, that’s if he’s eventually put in the dock. However, the case seems to have opened a Pandora’s box.

HEC says it has since established that AIU is not accredited by relevant accrediting agencies in the US, a situation that has subsequently forced it to cancel all the academic equivalencies it had issued to graduates from the university.

This will affect AIU graduates in Rwanda, with reports indicating that many of them, especially lecturers, have begun to petition the regulator. The controversial decision is particularly unpopular with AIU’s current and former scholars and their parents/guardians or sponsors.

The common denominator here is lack of due diligence. In an increasingly competitive global labour market, where everyone is looking to gain an edge through acquiring competitive academic qualifications, many in the developing world are in favour of a degree from a university in the West.

This is driven by misguided belief that anything western or “from abroad” is of better quality, and, therefore, not enough due diligence is done, at least in most cases.

Indeed, failure to carry out basic investigation while looking for a university abroad is one of the biggest mistakes often made by students and/or their parents. In some cases, this has landed many young scholars into problems, including decadence, leading to such issues as drug addiction, among other vices.

It is very important for members of the public to understand that all that glitters is not gold, and always exercise care and due diligence while choosing universities, and not just fall for promotional messages and offers from foreign institutions. Many have even fallen victim to college scams.

Besides doing comprehensive background checks about such institutions, it is necessary to always double check with HEC before making such important decisions. On the other hand, HEC should also do due diligence.

It is highly likely that the academic equivalences they previously issued to AIU graduates may have influenced others to go to the same university, and are now having their equivalence withdrawn.

HEC should be in position to provide advice to Rwandans who are planning to study abroad. But they can barely play such a role if they are not informed themselves. Indeed, cases like the one of AIU graduates only erode public trust and confidence in HEC and should and can be avoided.

Equally important is the impact that academic qualifications obtained from unrecognised or substandard education providers could have on the country’s labour market and economic competitiveness.

Both sides need to exercise due diligence to avoid such regrettable situations as wasting time and money studying at quack or unrecognised institutions and revocation of academic qualifications or equivalences.

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