Monday, 8 July 2013

THAILAND: Authorities investigate World Peace 'University'

Bangkok Post Issue No:279

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has opened a probe of World Peace University, which seems to grant honorary degrees in exchange for money, a practice the "university" insists is ethical and legal.
World Peace University is under investigation by the DSI.

The DSI said it received a complaint that the operation of World Peace cheats the public, with awards of degrees without normal university merit.

DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said Wednesday that initial investigations indicate that the firm doing business as World Peace University has not received authorisation to operate as a university under Section 10 of the Private Higher Education Institute Act.

He said the organisation registered as World Peace Limited Partnership (LP) but has used the word "university" in its name, logo and other documents. Use of "university" has made the public believe it is in fact a private university, so this limited partnership may have violated Section 22 and Section 109 of the same act.

World Peace allegedly invites people who have done good deeds to society to receive its honorary bachelor, masters and doctorate degrees. The only requirement is minimum payment of between 15,000 and 350,000 baht, entitling the recipient to use the World Peace degree publicity.

Mr Tarit said World Peace operates a website which informs readers that World Peace University has the same status as other universities in the country. Therefore, it is also has violated the Computer Crime Act, the DSI chief said.

"Our information indicates that this university cannot grant degrees or honorary degrees, because it does not have any authority, and has not been permitted to be established" as a university, he said. "The DSI will look into this case and will place charges against its rector."

The World Peace website said it will hand out honorary doctorate degrees on July 21 to around 200 people at a ceremony at the Rajamankala University of Technology Suvarnabhumi, Nonthaburi campus.

Supanut Donchan, who identified himself as registrar and acting rector, said World Peace was established in order to grant honorary doctorate degrees to persons who contribute to society in fields related to world peace, such as media, marketing and creativity. 

The university has already given more than 200 such degrees to "famous people", he said, without requiring any actual university or other educational classes or examinations. Mr Supanut said the World Peace degrees could not be used as academic references for job applications.

Mr Supanut said the way World Peace operates means it is not required to get permission from the Office of the Higher Education Commission.

He insisted that the company is protected under Section 80, Clause 3 of the 2007 Constitution (B.E. 2550) which stipulated that the government has to develop education quality and standards to match economic change.

"I am willing to face the DSI investigation because I believe that the granting of honorary doctorate degrees does no harm to anyone," said Mr Supanut.

World Peace University was investigated once before, by the National Office of Buddhism, after a follower of the now infamous Luang Pu Nen Kham Chattiko claimed he got a doctorate from this company.

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