Ongoing investigations of South Korean President, Park Geun-Hye, promise to shed further light on the role played by prestigious Seoul institution, Ewha Women’s University, in granting favours to the daughter of the President’s confidant, Choi Soon-Sil.
The scandal over Park Geun-Hye, who is now suspended and faces impeachment hearings, was sparked after it emerged in October 2016 that Chung Yoo-Ra, the 20-year-old daughter of Choi Soon-Sil (a close friend of Park Geun-Hye), had been admitted into the university despite not being qualified.
The University cancelled Chung Yoo-Ra’s admission. University President Choi Kyung-hee resigned in October following a student outcry. It led to further allegations that her mother, Choi Soon-Sil, was unofficially advising South Korean President Geun-Hye and receiving payments in exchange for political influence.
Ms Chung, who has been training in Denmark as an equestrian rider (she won a gold medal in group dressage at the 2014 Asian Games), has been arrested for overstaying her visa. South Korean prosecutors are seeking her extradition so that she can answer questions about her enrolment at the University and other special treatment received. Meanwhile a professor at Ewha Women’s University, Ryu Chul-kyun, has been arrested for allegedly arranging someone to take tests for Ms Chung and fixing her grades while she was away in Denmark.
On Monday the Senate at South Africa’s University of Zululand announced that it will launch an internal investigation into the alleged awarding of fake degrees to postgraduate students in return for cash payments at the University’s expanded campuses in Kwa- Dlangezwa and Richards Bay. The degrees are alleged to have been awarded in law, business management, public administration and education. As many as 4,000 degrees may have been sold in the past 20 years involving an internal investigating officer, an examination official, and possibly other university officials.
Qualification scandals at the University are not new. Five staff members were suspended in 1997 for allegedly accepting bribes of R260,000 for doctoring student records and selling 15 fake degrees. In 2007 80 students were de-registered after allegedly bribing university officials to pass their entrance exams.
A former president of the Institut d’Administration des Entreprises (IAE) in Toulon, France, will go on trial on Monday for corruption. Prosecutors will allege that Laroussi Oueslati accepted bribes of up to €3,000 from overseas Chinese students and also sexual favours in return for setting aside French language proficiency requirements for their enrolment.
Others also facing charges are a university administrator and four Chinese former students. Two further former students who fled to China following news of the scandal in 2009 have been issued arrest warrants.
If found guilty, Mr Oueslati could face 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to €150,000. Mr Oueslati has professed his innocence.
The new Nigerian government under President Buhari appears to be making some early strides in its commitment to root out corruption in the nation by starting with investigations into ten of the country’s universities and polytechnics. Education minister Mallam Adamu Adamu made the announcement on Thursday that committees have been set up to oversee the investigations.
The ten institutions identified were:
- Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Katsina state,
- Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia state,
- University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom state,
- Federal University Kashere, Gombe state,
- University of Abuja, FCT,
- University of Nigeria, Enugu state,
- Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo state,
- Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra state,
- Yaba College of Technology, Lagos state,
- University of Calabar, Cross River state.
The investigations follow complaints against the institutions for charges ranging from abuse of due process, irregularities in the recruitment and promotion of staff, sexual harassment and financial mismanagement, amongst other issues. The committees apparently have ten days to submit reports to the government, which appears to be a rather quick turn-around given that a key part of their brief is to check on the veracity of the complaints.
Tuck Cheong Foong, 54, pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrates Court last week to three corruption charges and two bribery charges. Foong worked as a lecturer at Curtin University, Perth, Australia.
Foong was found guilty of increasing the marks of two of his students after one paid him $3000 and the other paid $1500. The increase in marks enabled them to pass their units in Applied Science in Construction Management. He also increased the mark of a third student whose father was a long-term friend and colleague, even giving the student a pass mark for an assignment that had not been submitted.
The offences were committed in 2012 and investigated by the Crime and Corruption Commission, which oversees the integrity of practices at Western Australian tertiary institutions, as well as State government departments. Foong was released on bail and will be sentenced at a later date.