Wednesday, January 28, 2009

German Degree Mill shut down

Spiegel online reports that a German Degree Mill that sold doctorates has been shut down.

The Institut für Wissenschaftsberatung in Bergisch Gladbach had been in business for the past 20 years. Because of a very high fine in a case of bribery, the company is now bankrupt and their home page defunct.

The degree mill boasted proudly of having paired off thousands of people who wanted doctorates and were willing to pay for it with cash-starved universities and/or greedy professors.

Of course, they were always "legal" - only offereing assistance and advice, no ghostwriting, they said.

One of the two owners was put on trial for bribing a university professor in 68 cases. In July 2008 it was revealed that they paid the professor 4200 Euros (sent to the bank account of a relative): 2100 for accepting the "doctoral student" and 2100 Euros after graduation.

The state court in Hildesheim sentenced the law professor from the University of Hanover - who had raked in over 150,000 in fees that he said that he needed to do renovations on his house - to three years in prison and 150,000 in fines. The degree mill owner was sentenced to 3 1/2 years prison and fined 75,000 Euros, although only 8 of 68 people who paid the first fee actually made it through and obtained doctorates.

The second owner of the company, fearing that he could be sentenced for criminal delay in filing, especially as a second case is still in the courts, filed for bankruptcy. The liquidator has had the web page taken down.

The University of Hanover now asks all doctoral students to swear that they have not used an "advice service".

Tuesday, January 27, 2009