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IPOH, Feb 7 ― Photographs from a dating site were used for the profile of a faculty member of the US-based Cambridge International University (CIU) where Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya obtained a business degree.
Marzuki clarified yesterday that his distance-learning business administration degree came from the US-based entity, after he was accused of falsely claiming to be a graduate of the University of Cambridge, one of the world’s most prestigious universities.
CIU has no ties to the University of Cambridge in the UK beyond the similar sounding name.
An image search of the photo used for one “Dr Patricia Powell”, a listed faculty member of the suspected CIU degree mill, found the same photo used on the AnastasiaDate website that primarily holds profiles of eastern European women.
It is not immediately clear if Powell is also a user of the dating site or that the photo was repurposed, but attempts to contact her at the listed email address failed to go through.
Malay Mail attempted to verify her email through an online tool, which returned an “unknown” status. This could mean the email address is inactive, non-existent, or misconfigured.
The same technical failures also occurred during attempts to contact other faculty members for clarification.
Aside from Powell, other faculty members also featured profile photos that suggest they were repurposed from fashion photoshoots.
Online searches of the faculty members also failed to return concrete information of their existence, either in the form of social media accounts with similar names and images or professional information listing their current workplace.
Further indication that CIU is a possible degree mill was the listing of 12 faculty members and 13 adjunct members despite the entity claiming to have existed since 1990 and offering 150 programmes.
It also does not have a physical address.
Controversy over the deputy minister’s academic qualifications erupted after political activist Muhsin Abdul Latheef lodged a police report over a Facebook post on February 3 that carried University of Cambridge’s explanation that it did not offer distance-learning programmes or business administration degrees similar as claimed by Marzuki.