“Washington University,” the No. 2 “diploma mill” in the world?

It is already confusing enough that there are so many universities named after Washington. This month, a widespread news article in China named “Washington University” the #2 diploma mill in the world. Now, the Wash. U. students from China have one more thing to explain to their friends and future employers.

First appearing in a local tabloid but rapidly picked up by many mainstream news websites, this article revealed their latest investigation on global colleges selling diplomas to make profits. These colleges or universities, often called “diploma mills,” have no recognition from official educational accrediting agencies and often have no academic staff or basic facilities (the only thing needed are printers!). In the end of the article, the news listed the top 10 “diploma mills” based on their investigation and warned students and employers to be extreme careful about such institutions. Surprisingly, “Washington University” is at No. 2 in the rankings, after “Columbia Federal State University” and followed by “Breyer State University,” an online degree programs and distance-learning provider.

As one of the emerging problems in China, fake US university degrees and diplomas are quite appealing to people coveting the gains, but not the pains, of completing four-year or longer studies abroad. Recently, several highflying CEOs, including the former president of Microsoft China, Tang Jun, were revealed to have purchased their Ph.D. degrees in the U.S. These qualifications cost as little as a couple of thousand dollars.

It is fair for the media to expose the “wrongdoers.” However, it is not fair for the students who studying or having graduated from the bona fide universities, which the diploma mills are intentionally mimicking. The news that “Washington University” is the second biggest diploma mill shocked Chinese students who are currently enrolled in Washington University in St. Louis, as well as (one might imagine) at the University of Washington, Washington State University, etc. Various concerns, such as a possible decrease in the value of their diplomas and understandable misunderstandings from future Chinese employers have been raised immediately among senior and newly graduated students.

As one of these students, the author is trying to call the attention of this news to the Wash. U. administration and has written to Jill Friedman, the vice chancellor for public affairs, on Aug. 8. As of August 27, no response has been received from the vice chancellor office.

  • Anon

    Also, the diploma mill was known as Washington University until WUSTL sued them. This was over 15 years ago. They are now known as Washington International University. The tabloid used the wrong name.

  • Anon

    The University is well aware of this issue. The best solution does not involve Jill Friedman and Public Affairs but rather all our faculty, staff, and students (namely Chinese students) who serve as ambassadors of the school in China and around the world.