Monday, September 15, 2014

Anoop Shankar – Would NUS World Rankings be affected

The revelation of a ‘genius’ professor (Singapore has this fetish craving for geniuses) who was an academic staff of NUS but got caught with his pants down, with fake credentials in the US is sending a little tremor around our reputable institutions of higher learnings. We have carefully honed our skills by gaming the ranking systems, oops, I mean by making sure that we followed the norms set by international agencies, not intentionally of course, to raise our rankings to be among the top universities in the world. We are definitely not gaming, otherwise if the criteria demand having a monkey as a professor, they would have appointed a monkey to the staff too. Now doing that would be gaming. We are quite near to the class of Harvard and Cambridge, beating many top Ivy League universities in the US and UK. And we achieved this by sheer quality of the institutions and the staff.
Now we have this dubious honour of sharing in the hiring of a fake as an academic staff and publishing many papers to help in our rankings. How would this affect our university’s rankings? Is this another one of those, ‘it happens once in 50 years’ cases? If it is so, then we should thank God that it would not cause too much damage to our reputation. If it is not the case, and many more are fakes, then we will have a very embarrassing problem at hand.
How would we know that there are other fakes in the academia? The only way to find out is to comb through with a fine brush, the academic qualifications of the staff, especially the foreigners. The question is, do we want to do this and risk our rankings and reputations tumbling to the abyss? My suggestion is not to do anything. Let it be. Then we can keep our rankings and the integrity of the institutions? Did I say integrity? Oops, wrong choice of word definitely. Change that to reputation.
How many people really think that there is a need for a thorough investigation in the academia for fraudsters? This disease of having fakes and fraudsters in the whole island has been spreading and the writing has been on the wall for too long. And it is not only in the academia! It is something that must be done and in a hurry. But no one bothers. Or is this problem already known in the closed circles and the solution is to announce that no degrees also can if one can perform, and can be promoted to high positions too. Definitely not! These are two separate issues.
Do we have a problem? Yes, no? Do we want to acknowledge that we have a problem? Do we then want to address this problem? If all the answers are no, then we have no problems and Rip Van Winkle can go back to sleep for another 50 years. We can continue to plan for the big 50 year celebrations and party.
Some say the best solution to a nasty problem is to look the other way. Don’t talk about it, don’t do anything is the best.

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