January 06, 2009

Retribution for asserting (or trying to assert one's rights)

Graduate students are at the mercy of academic bul... Graduate students are at the mercy of academic bullies just as professors are. It appears to be a phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic, as well. In the US, a system of regional accrediting agencies is supposed to ensure students' rights, but in reality these agencies are run by the institutions and do little or nothing to ensure fair processes. In my case, the university administrator in charge of the doctoral program made substantive changes to the program and prohibited doctoral candidates from pursuing their dissertation research until long after advancement to candidacy. She claimed the delay (two full semesters) was for educational purposes, but she provided no rationale and the regional accrediting agency refused to intervene even though such a delay was a clear violation of the agency's standards (WASC, in this case). The university ombudsman offered no relief just as in the case of the post, above. It's a sad commentary on the state of higher education when educated individuals act in such a medieval manner. I'm not a fan of anonymous posts, but you will see that I have posted anonymously. Why? Retribution for asserting (or trying to assert one's rights).



Anonymous said...

I found out first hand that accreditation bodies can be easily swindled by educational institutions. A department might present documents like course outlines to the examiners and those are accepted, seemingly without question. Once those examiners give their approval, much of the course content that has any resemblance to what was presented in those outlines can be tossed out and it's back to whatever the department administration thinks should be taught.

I once taught service courses to one department that did that and I, unfortunately, was unknowingly part of the swindle. When I read an announcement that the department in question had been granted accreditation, I submitted my resignation. That department took advantage of my integrity and committed what some might consider outright fraud.

I wanted nothing more whatsoever to do with that institution.

As for grad students being at the mercy of professors, I've got lots of stories to tell about that. How about thesis supervisors who abandon their responsibilities towards a student because they are more interested in what another student is doing? What about a prof who is vague about what a student is supposed to investigate because that student exists only to harvest data which that prof will then publish under his or her own name without giving credit to that student?

Often, in cases like I just described, the poor grad student puts up with that exploitation and abuse because of some foolish notion of having to pay one's dues. Sometimes, after enduring such intellectual torture, the unfortunate student drops out, his or her academic aspirations in ruins.

The fraud and abuse that is committed in academic institutions could easily rival what we've seen recently in business. One could say that this should be brought to public attention, but I doubt that anybody outside the post-secondary educational system would ever believe it.

El Cid

vlorbik said...

the last two words of the title
oughta be outside the parens.
just sayin'.

long live "bullying of academics"!
(no, wait ...)

Anonymous said...

Potential university students...

... read the stories here... of deceit and corruption... and know the things that happen in our universities

Parents who pay your children's fees....

... read the stories here... of deceit and corruption... and know the things that happen in our universities

Taxpayers of this country...

... read the stories here... of deceit and corruption... and know the things that happen in our universities

Speak out against workplace bullying...


You know it makes sense.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Even if potential students, parents of students, and taxpayers were informed about what goes on inside post-secondary institutions, nobody would believe it.

When I started grad studies nearly thirty years ago, I heard rumours about the prof who would become my supervisor. I disregarded it because I firmly believed that academics, being educated, lived by a higher moral and ethical standard than the rest of society.

Boy, was I wrong! They turned out to be as mean, vile, and corrupt as people I worked with while I was in industry. That hasn't changed during those thirty years. In many respects, they are much worse than the general public. Worse yet, they should know better.

Post-secondary education has become a sad joke.

El Cid