Some fake-cert holders to quit their jobs
Even those who have genuine degrees fear they will be tarnished. -ST
By Sandra Davie, Senior Writer
AT LEAST three Singaporeans with fake Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) degrees told The Straits Times that they are resigning from their jobs before they get found out. Another has already quit.
The four, in their 20s and 30s, are among hundreds of people here who paid between $12,000 and $18,000 to attend a one-year RMIT business degree course at Brookes Business School in Beach Road. They used the degree to secure their current jobs.
Upon learning from a Straits Times Special Report on Tuesday that their degrees were counterfeit, three said they plan to resign.
One of them, a 33-year-old polytechnic business diploma holder working as a sales executive, said: 'I'm worried about finding work in this recession. I thought of confessing to my boss but I don't think he will believe that I did not know. So I have no choice but to resign.'
A human resource executive, who found out a month ago that his degree was a dud, has already resigned.
'Being in HR with a fake degree, I don't have a leg to stand on,' he said. 'It's ironic that I check on people's credentials all the time, but I did not check my own. I just assumed it must be the real thing, since it was RMIT.'
He hopes to get a refund of the $18,000 fees he paid.
The private school in Beach Road has been offering the RMIT business degree course since 2005 even though it was not authorised by the Australian university to do so.
Its owner, Mr Benny Yap, claimed that he himself had been duped by a Vietnamese man who sold him a 'franchise' to offer RMIT degrees back in 2007.
It is not only those with fake degrees who are worried. Six Singaporeans with genuine RMIT degrees contacted The Straits Times, concerned that their degrees would be tarnished by association.
The reason is that their degrees look very much like the counterfeit shown in The Straits Times, right down to the gold lettering of their names and the signatures of the university's chancellor and vice-chancellor.
Systems engineer Dan Tan, 32, who obtained his RMIT degree through the Informatics school in 2002, said: 'I am worried because the fake degree looks exactly like mine.'
RMIT graduate Thomas Tan, 36, a business development manager who did his course at the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), called RMIT in Melbourne to ensure that his name and degree were registered after his HR manager queried his qualifications.
'This is terrible,' he said. 'Now employers will have doubts about all RMIT certificates. I don't know how the authorities can let something like this happen.'
The Straits Times was unable to reach the RMIT alumni association here. There are an estimated 15,000 RMIT degree holders in Singapore.
An RMIT spokesman in Melbourne confirmed that the university used gold lettering for graduate's names on degree scrolls up till 2004, after which it switched to black lettering.
She said students who have completed programmes with RMIT's official partners in Singapore can be confident of the validity of their certificates and transcripts because they come embedded with a range of security features.
She gave an assurance that the university would help those who need to confirm the authenticity of their certificates.
The university said that its current and past partner schools in Singapore are the Air Transport Training College, Alberton Management College, Informatics, SIM, Singapore Manufacturers Federation and The Stansfield Group.
It now accepts new students only from the Air Transport Training College, SIM and The Stansfield Group.
The spokesman said RMIT is also seeking advice from lawyers in Singapore on further action.
The Education Ministry said yesterday that Brookes Business School is only registered to deliver diploma-level courses and not any external degree programmes.
A spokesman said the ministry had issued a warning to Brookes Business School in 2007 after RMIT complained that the school was advertising its university programmes.
'Following recent complaints and feedback, MOE is investigating the matter to determine the appropriate course of action,' she said.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.
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