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July 21, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Lecturer defends disputed PhD – Tells critics to hate game, not playa

A senior academic at Auckland’s Unitec says he is “pissed off” that his qualifications have been called into question, following a Sunday Star-Times report which found his doctorate degree came from an unaccredited online university.

Information Technology lecturer Logan Muller was awarded a PhD in Business Administration from Kennedy Western University in 2005 for his work with remote villages in the Andes, developing sustainable economic models using wireless networks and internet access.

Muller says he spent three years and $15,000 earning his degree – but others say Unitec should not be endorsing an unrecognised qualification.

The controversy centres on accreditation, a legal framework by which an institution allows its staff, coursework, facilities and organisational structure to be reviewed and assessed by a government agency.

Kennedy Western – which changed its name to Warren National after a federal investigation – still refuses to submit itself to review by the US Department of Education.

In turn, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority says it cannot recognise any qualification from an institution that has not been accredited by its own government.

“Where it is established that the award-issuing institution is not accredited by the relevant quality assurance body, it is not possible to provide an assessment of a qualification against the National Qualifications framework.”

While Unitec told the Sunday Star-Times it would stand by Muller’s PhD, Muller says he is frustrated that the lack of transparency has cast doubt over the validity of his work and dismisses the scrutiny as “just malicious”.

“I feel pretty pissed off that I have to sit here and justify myself to somebody…. What I want people to do is see the whole picture. Up until 2006, I was overseas nearly four months a year on the project. [There were] 35,000 lives that we were affecting, and I had a full teaching load and students here, and I’ve got kids and a family… I was pretty fucking busy.”

Muller says he has no intention of enrolling elsewhere and will continue to list his PhD on his resumé.

Meanwhile, Head of School Alison Young has told Unison’s student magazine, In Unison, that Unitec does not endorse postgraduate study at unaccredited institutions, despite advertising Muller’s PhD in his staff profile on the Unitec website.

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