Suspect degrees under fire in Vietnam

A supposed university, suspected of issuing bogus degrees, opened its doors to investigation with threatening words and a diploma scam in Vietnam becoming a major issue.

This diploma, a PhD. in Economics that was awarded to Nguyen Ngoc An, raised the suspicions of authorities in Vietnam. Photo: SGTT

The Dan Tri/DTiNews desk received a threatening letter on July 28, sparking an investigation into the so-called university which sent it.

As a United States citizen, I was immediately baffled by the letter which has a U.S. contact address and is a university that I’d never heard of. They claimed Dan Tri had published incorrect information about a business operating under the name of “Southern Pacific University” (SPU) and threatened legal action if we printed anything else negative about them.

The letter was written in broken English and left no information as to how we could reply. Things unfolded very quickly after that. It appeared to me that a paranoid scam machine was on the defensive about people exposing them. Plain and simple. Questionable degrees aren’t a new thing, it has been a growing issue in a region that is developing quickly and seeking education desperately. Receiving “diplomas” for cash, Internet degrees, and fake certificates have become a matter of growing concern. Unqualified institutions (that are really just incorporated businesses) accept money and issue certificates and diplomas that have absolutely no academic credibility whatsoever.

Southern Pacific University (SPU) was reported by several Vietnamese news sources as having issued bogus degrees recently and the paranoid, and seemingly angry letter, led us to pursue our own investigation as to where these accusations were coming from.

A few things became clear immediately after initial research and evaluation of the letter and the school:

1) Southern Pacific University is not an accredited establishment in the United States or included in the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs listed by the U.S. Department of Education.

2) The “university” is incorporated in Delaware, United States (which is on the Atlantic Ocean side, not the Pacific which their title would suggest, raising immediate questions).

3) The letter itself, from President “Prof. Dr. Geoff Taylor”, was written in broken English. (This is supposed to be a respected, English speaking university)

4) The school uses Belize and St. Kitts as its reference for credibility, really just proof of incorporation, and is hardly an international standard. (If it is an “American” institution, where are their credentials and why are they using these countries to legitimize their credibility?)

5) There is no campus or direct contact in Vietnam.

6) The website boasts, “No classroom, seminar or on campus attendance,” and buried inside the site is the acknowledgement that, “SPU do not guarantee any recognition (of their degrees).”

7) Their only United States locale was Hawaii, and the state ordered them to be shut down.

8) This “school” is not recognized by the ODA (Oregon Degree Authorization), one of the most reliable and credible sources in the United States. (When viewing their “accreditation” tab on the website, they have a list of registration and incorporation but no legitimate education accreditation.) It is however, accredited by a UK agency called UKAS – United Kingdom Accreditation Services.

9) SPU’s registered address in the U.S. is a chain store called Mailbox Etc., which is a company who provides mailing services and operates as little more than a mailbox, it is not a physical address of a functioning educational facility.

10) In my opinion, this evidence points to a scam.

Recently, Vietnamese news sources have exposed two public figures, holding degrees from Southern Pacific University; Director of Phu Tho Province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism – Nguyen Ngoc An, who received a PhD in Economics from SPU and Deputy Secretary of the Yen Bai Province Party Committee – Nguyen Van Ngoc who holds a PhD in Economics from SPU as well as another questionable MBA from Irvine University. They have admittedly received degrees from this organization. Nguyen Ngoc An acknowledged that he does not speak English. How can somebody receive a DOCTORATE in economics from an English-based university without speaking a lick of English? It was also claimed that it took only six months for them to receive a doctorate degree which Nguyen Ngoc An claimed to cost him 17,000 U.S. dollars. Credibility of the degree has lost weight in public opinion and our further investigation has only seemed to add to the point.

SPU’s website reveals that this institution has basically no admissions requirements other than a non-refundable 50 USD payment and they announce, “As soon as we receive your application form together with all relevant documents and $50.00 non-refundable admission fee, Southern Pacific University will send you an official offer letter and receipt for payment.”

This statement is shocking as no reputable university in the United States would ever guarantee admission. Essentially, 50 dollars at Southern Pacific University promises you admission. But admission to what? There is no verifiable campus so at best, this would be “distance-learning”.

There are no direct ways to contact the institution or a representative. They do have a skype account but contacting them through this method has been so far, unsuccessful. They also have not replied to our email inquiries. SPU operates in China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, and the UK as well. In Vietnam, there are two “Accredited Centers” listed on their website. Neither has an address and Internet searches reveal nothing as to if these places actually exist. This organization is currently under further investigation by DTiNews as more details surface. Back to News Main Page


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