Why " North-American degree" ? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 18, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

Why " North-American degree" ?

Why " North-American degree" ?

THE PROBLEM
Some private universities require their potential faculties to have degrees of some specific countries. For example, the first private university, North-South University, since early 2000 in its recruitment advertisement wants the candidates have degrees from a reputed foreign university preferably to have a North-American degree. I talked to the UGC members and the concerned university authorities about this discretionary and racial advertisement. They then corrected the advertisement and put a fresh advertisement in The Daily Star, three days after on February 2, 2013, with 'from a reputed university' in place of 'reputed foreign university'. But the problem remains; some universities still continue with this mindless advertisement.
THEIR ARGUMENTS
These employers argue that they do not have enough time and resources to invite so many people to participate in the selection process. Second, these degrees are ranked higher formally or informally, particularly MBA degrees which was initiated in USA. Third, they believe that in the market economy where there is freedom of choice this practice is not an offence because they are taking the best products.
THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES
 Universities can say 'degrees from globally reputed universities', instead of 'reputed foreign universities'. Otherwise, home country is not even allowed to participate in the process. And importantly, knowledge is not concentrated to a particular country or group of countries. When this kind of discriminatory recruitment advertisement appeared in Bangladesh in early 2000, I raised the issue in my MBA class. Almost all students opined that in the lassies-faire economy, this advertisement is nothing wrong. But when I explained the theory of knowledge, freedom, justice, human rights, constitution, all of them changed their minds and agreed with me that this kind of advertisement is based on commercial and self interest, and particularly short of knowledge. I then took the issue in our departmental academic committee meeting. There was divided opinion. Some were 'in favor of nothing wrong', some agreed with my stand, and others remained silent. However, subsequently, with my further efforts on that I believe I could convince the community.
BELIEF VS. KNOWLEDGE
Their recruitment practices are based on belief not knowledge. These behaviors violate the constitution of the country where every citizen has the right to prove one's worth if he or she satisfies basic job requirements. Importantly, universities pursue global knowledge not only North-American knowledge or Bangladeshi knowledge. This behavior can also face the criticism of colonial education. Education under colonialism did not prepare students to be productive and participant citizens in independent modern states of their own. Colonial education denationalized the colonial student, denigrated his culture, and socialized him into the political culture of the imperial country (Coleman 1965: 36). That all North-American universities are better than others is a prejudice. This discriminatory practice is also inconsistent with the office of the country's President which approved all universities. This is also self defeating because it excludes their own degrees.
  Beliefs, ideologies and self-interests are narrower; knowledge is broader. These beliefs have weaker justifications but to be knowledge there must be richer justifications. Human rights are broader than saying that they do not have time to allow more candidates. Other universities and their students and degrees feel insulted if they are not given at least an opportunity to the process. Their practice is also inconsistent with the theory of competition because it has a restricted or limited market; there are barriers of entry. There are studies (Gonzalez 2006) where hereditary CEOs generally underperform than market based CEOs. Again hereditary CEOs perform better but they must prove their worth and specifically when they have a degree from a reputed university. And market based CEOs do not underperform even if they do not have a degree from a good school. There are evidences of good leaders in many disciplines who graduated from unknown remote village schools and colleges.
PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE VIOLATED
The constitution of the country provides equal citizenship and therefore every citizen must have equal opportunities. John Rawls (1971) added another requirement for justice and that is opportunities according to merit and performance.  An employer has the right to employ the best candidates but how does it employ the best candidates is important. Amartya Sen (2003) emphasizes this process aspect of fulfilling liberty for deciding justice and injustice. Liberty is therefore a responsibility concept. Importantly, justice or injustice does not affect an individual alone but it affects his family members too. That is, justice or injustice is not an individual concept, it is also a joint and social concept. If an individual is deprived of his due opportunity, justice is denied not only to that individual but also to his innocent child.
A UNIVERSITY IS A GLOBAL INSTITUTION
A university is a global institution, a house of people of diverse nationalities and culture. And a graduate from a university is a global citizen. He learned global history, interacted with global people and global culture. He has diverse identities- a Bangladeshi but with high respect for Western individual liberty; a non-practizing Hindu but occasional beef-lover; a soft-spoken Bengali but enriched by the diversity of other languages and culture, a singer of Tagore song but fond of classical music; and the tennis champion but a football fan. Narrow single identity by region, political party or religion is not his way.
  Knowledge never grew nor concentrated in a particular place. Once Oxford and Cambridge gave leadership; leaders of different countries graduated from these universities. Now USA universities have taken these positions. But a university teacher lives not by the place of his degree but by the knowledge he creates. Importantly, a university's success does not rest on teaching and exercising only the existing knowledge but in creating new knowledge.
SELF-DEFEATING
'North-American degree' or 'reputed foreign university degree' are self-defeating because the employer-university does not even recognize its own degree! If it is a newly established university, this requirement may be partly valid. But some universities even more than two decades old, still continue with this requirement. One of the reasons for this gross wrong belief is that private universities are operating round the clock even in weekly holidays; 9 am to 9 pm is the normal work time. They have little time to relax and think. Universities rather spend most of their time in teaching and administrative duties; research, cognitive and intellectual exercise are largely ignored.

The writer is Professor of Accounting, University of Dhaka. Email:dhiman_chowdhury@yahoo.com

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