Lingnan University has said it is organising a committee to investigate allegations that Associate Vice President Herdip Singh plagiarised his doctoral thesis. The announcement comes as another top-level administrator at the University has been accused of operating a “diploma mill” selling illegitimate degrees from overseas.

Reports first emerged on Wednesday that Singh’s doctoral thesis, submitted to Tarlac State University in the Philippines in 2013, bore “disturbing similarities” to a paper written by a student at Sweden’s Lund University in 2010. An associate professor at Lund University told Apple Daily he is “quite sure it is a case of plagiarism.”

President of the Lingnan University Student Union Lau Chun-lam said that since students found guilty of plagiarism are expelled immediately, Singh should also be suspended. Lau also added that the investigation should be carried out by an independent third party rather than a committee composed of Singh’s colleagues.

lingnan university
Lingnan University. Photo: Wikicommons.

Lifelong College

Subsequent revelations have shown that Singh’s Tarlac State University degree was in fact obtained through Lifelong College, an institution was set up by Alex Lee Ye-lick, director of Lingnan Education Organisation Limited and member of the Lingnan University Court and Council.

The college, dubbed a “diploma mill,” was established in 1998. From its base in Yau Ma Tei, it provides students with degrees rewarded remotely from partner universities abroad. Many of these, such as Tarlac State University, Bulacan State University and Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology, are located in the Philippines.

tarlac state uni
Tarlac State University. Photo: Wikicommons.

According to Apple Daily, Lee instructed his employees to be “flexible”: apart from falsifying documents such as attendance records and review forms, they should also arrange for the “backdating” of students’ commencement dates, enabling clients to expedite their degrees for a fee of HK$2,000.

Wan Chai District Councillor Anna Tang King-yung, a member of the pro-Beijing DAB party, was also found to have obtained her doctorate from Tarlac State University in less than a year’s time with help from Lifelong College.

alex lee
Alex Lee.

Lee himself reportedly holds seven doctorates—two of which were completed at the same time—while he issued his own academic reports. Lee said that since he was an approved program director and registrar at the two universities, he was entitled to do so as long as he declared interest.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.