Which is more important: the degree or the work you produce?

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has a sticky situation on their hands.

One of their employees, Nisha Padmanabhan, was found to have received her Master’s degree from  Southern Pacific University, a “degree mill” (where one pays to get a degree without taking exams or attending classes). Netizens started spamming IDA Singapore’s Facebook page, demanding answers as to why she was employed despite having a unreputable degree of ambiguous origins.

This is Nisha’s LinkedIn profile, which shows her credentials as being from Southern Pacific University:

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This is the website of Southern Pacific University. Most of the buttons on the top don’t even work.

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Surely IDA will do something, right?

Instead, IDA replied with the following:

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However, IDA’s answer did not prove to be satisfactory to some, as the issue was supposedly a matter of integrity, regardless of whether IDA had taken her Master’s degree into consideration when hiring her.

The spam continued until yesterday, when IDA made a post claiming that they were continuing to look into the case.

Basically, a non-answer, and threats of moderation. Great way to solve the problem and make it go away, IDA!

Someone who commented on the post asking IDA to ignore the trolls received a hammering and accusations of boot-licking:

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IDA’s dilemma

For the public, there should be no dilemma: Nisha Padmanabhan should not have a job with a statutory board because she literally purchased her Master’s degree. But for IDA to not immediately fire her upon learning of the news could mean that she is actually doing her job to a satisfactory level, regardless of where she obtained her degree. This naturally puts IDA in a difficult situation. Bow to the public’s wrath, or stick to their guns of Padmanabhan’s track record?

We’re inclined to side with the public for this one. Purchasing a degree undermines everything education stands for; it implies that all you need to get a degree is paying for it, and if that happens, who’s going to go to legitimate schools when they can just buy a degree from some dodgy university and get a job with a statutory board? Keeping Padmanabhan may set a dangerous precedent where governmental organisations condone “degree mills”, and encourage others to buy degrees too. This obviously cannot happen in the public sector, and so it is imperative that something is done, not just to placate the public, but to protect the public sector from being filled with people of questionable qualifications and morals.

And if anyone wants to invoke meritocracy: it doesn’t matter what kind of grades you had before purchasing the fake Master’s degree if your morals are suspect enough to do it in the first place.

tl;dr: Fire Nisha Padmanabhan, surely there’s someone else with legitimate qualifications able to take her place as a Applications Consultant.

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Featured image via IDA Singapore
With references from The Online Citizen, The Straits Times