Pete the Dog plays with his diploma from the American University of London.
It seems higher education is going to the dogs.
In just four days, a dog named Pete earned an MBA from the American University of London.
He had the help of the BBC’s Newsnight team, which worked up a one-page resume and filled in the dog’s application form. Pete was tagged as a 36-year-old management consultant with 15 years of work experience and a degree from a U.K. university.
After handing over a $ 7,278 fee, Pete joined the ranks of AUOL’s more than 110,000 alumni—without ever sending in any proof of his work.
On its website, the university claims to be a pioneer in online learning, with students from 89 countries around the world. Although AUOL has insisted that it is “not a bogus university,” the ease with which this furry business student earned his diploma tells a different tale.
Universities in the U.K. have to be accredited by Parliament. AUOL is just one of nearly 350 un-accredited “distance learning” universities that claim to be linked to the U.K.
In Pete’s fake application, BBC reporters claimed the dog had 15 years of work experience.
It turns out the American University of London isn’t American. It is actually incorporated in St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. It’s not even based in London. The university’s phone number comes from Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, a town 27 miles outside of the British capital. Students’ tuition fees are also are sent to a bank in Beaconsfield.
The school claims that its staff are “highly qualified and experienced.” But five Western academics who were listed on the site said that they had never worked for AUOL.
George Colin, an expert who has studied unaccredited education, said that AUOL doesn’t have the authority to award degrees.
“They are not degrees,” Colin told the BBC. “They are pieces of paper and I’m guessing they are not able to sell very many degrees into countries where English is the first language.”
In fact, many of AUOL’s students come from independent colleges from overseas countries. The university just takes a fee to set up the curricula and send out graduation certificates.
School founder Professor Michael Nimier and registrar Sonia Grimes both live in Beaconsfield. On videos, Nimier can be seen taking part in graduation ceremonies in what appear to be Middle Eastern countries.
The American University of London was founded in 1984 by Michael Nimier (center). It is not an accredited institution.
“The American University of London has always emphasized three important qualities: education, education and education,” Nimier said in a video.
AUOL is blacklisted in Italy and in five U.S. states. It is actually illegal to use AUOL qualifications to look for jobs in Texas.
In a statement, AUOL said they have always been upfront about their status.
“We have not applied for accreditation with any American, British or other official agency. Many graduates go on to higher education or hold important positions on the strength of our degrees.”
After reviewing Pete’s application, Jan Bamford of the properly accredited London Metropolitan Uniersity said the dog wouldn’t make the cut at her school.
“I find it incredible that any organization is awarding an MBA on what essentially amounts to the evidence that is on a piece of paper. That’s appalling. Really appalling. And again it goes to the very heart of the fact the government needs to regulate this behavior,” Bamford said.