Cooper once toyed with the idea of getting an online MBA, but instead became a professor of literacy and cultural studies at the University of the West Indies.
“To think that a dog had more ambition than me!” Cooper wrote in a recent column in the Jamaica Gleaner. “I decided to apply to Rochville for a PhD in chemistry. Why chemistry? Why not? I have good chemistry.”
Cooper manufactured the following chemistry “life experience” and “work experience” on her application for a degree to Rochville, the reputed diploma mill: being “good at chemistry in high school” and working for 20 years at a Jamaican producer of household chemicals.
Within 15 minutes of emailing her application to Rochville University, says Cooper, a representative from the online school called her to find out if she had a bachelors or masters in chemistry or just life and work experience.
“When I said no, I was offered a package deal of all three degrees,” Cooper writes. She then was told she had to make payment via credit or debit card.
Cooper refused to pay without being told whether she was indeed eligible for the online degrees. A week later, she received a congratulatory email, advising her that “the 10-member evaluation committee at Rochville University has finally approved you for Doctorate Degree.”
Total bill for her online PhD: $659, including $599 for the degree, plus $60 for magna cum laude honors designation.
Cooper declined to proceed with payment, so she never actually received her online doctorate degree from Rochville University. However, she writes: “Having had such spectacular success with getting my PhD in chemistry, I decided to set up my own university.”
She then found out from the University Council of Jamaica that in her country, there are “absolutely no regulations” covering the establishment of a traditional or online university.
“The council is a watchdog with no teeth: Pure bark,” writes Cooper. “Chester Ludlow, MBA, could set up a university here and nobody could stop him.”
Cooper is calling for more regulation to oversee the diploma mill industry and higher education in Jamaica, and hopes to put a halt to the fake degree scams in her country.
“It really is an important issue in higher education,” she says.
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