The Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education (Zimche) says it does not recognise online qualifications and honorary degrees being dished out by institutions that are not universities.
BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA
Among some of the online universities cited are Philippines’ St Linus, which, in 2013 awarded the new Zimbabwe Football Association president Phillip Chiyangwa a doctorate.
Speaking at a Press conference at Zimche offices in Harare yesterday, chief executive officer Emmanuel Ngara said the body did not recognise qualifications acquired from “degree mills”.
He said the organisation was empowered through the Zimche Act Chapter 25:27 of 2006 to evaluate qualifications obtained from foreign universities which must be registered with their councils/commissions for higher education.
“In recent times, many of our citizens in the country and in the Diaspora have gone on to obtain qualifications from various institutions worldwide,” Ngara said
“Some of these institutions have unfortunately turned out to be degree mills, which only exist in name, but with no physical address and from which one can ‘buy’ degrees. Zimche can state for certain that qualifications obtained from the following institutions cannot be recognised in Zimbabwe: Calvary, St Linus, Atlantic International and Azalia Universities.”
Chiyangwa yesterday said he was not affected as he did not get an online degree and did not wish to be employed by anyone.
“What I can say to you is mine is not an online degree. I am not affected as I did not get the qualification to get employed by anyone. Maybe there are others that are occupying important offices that have those qualifications and those are the people that will be affected,” Chiyangwa said.
Ngara said there was a huge difference between online degree programmes and distance education and warned Zimbabweans against being hoodwinked by such institutions.
“At the moment online degrees from anywhere in the world are not yet accepted in Zimbabwe, as Zimche is currently seized with the evaluation of that particular mode of study,” he said, adding that the accepted mode of study for any degree at the moment was through “the conventional method or authentic distance learning mode”.
He said for higher degree qualifications such as PhDs, they only accepted research that was supervised by a reputable academic in the particular field of study.
Ngara also lamented the increase of forged local qualifications, saying the practice had the “potential to damage the reputation” of the Zimbabwean education system and thus had to be eradicated.
He invited people that have acquired degrees from foreign universities to visit their offices so they could evaluate the programmes and the institutions.