Something absurd happened to me yesterday, to explain it properly, I’d need to first reveal a little background, for those who do not know, I love to pursuit knowledge and if possible, I would try and gain a formal qualification on it.
I enrolled in another Master degree last Nov (2009) with a UK university (its important to highlight that it is a UK university to highlight the ironic aspect of this episode). This particular Masters is part-time via research and to cut the story short, I enrolled after clarifying the enrollment requirements -if I can take it from Singapore (the OK was given with specific mention that I would received minimum support as the University is unable to delivery anything in Singapore, all communication, support etc would be via email) and fees – particularly fees for overseas part-time student taking the specific master degree.
So the OK was given and given that its pretty much research based (no coursework), I proceed with the actual work (engaging the professor and all) and produce the first piece of work required (worth 15M credit – 60M credit was required for me to graduate with the Master) and at the same time, working on my application documents but given that December was here, things got on slow.
And then comes January and I am close to completed my second 15M credit (hence 30M once I get it done) but still no news on enrollment, so I dropped an email to the admission liaison for a follow up, 2 days later, the head of department reverted saying that with regrets, it is the university’s policy that they cannot accept overseas students doing part-time masters program.
Shocking? Oh yeah, I tried to clarify by highlighting that there were emails confirmation to undertake this Masters program via Singapore and even the fees for Overseas Part-Time students was given to me, so how can it be against university’s policy? Well, prep yourself, this is the second blow I got – I was told that I got it wrong (they used the word ‘confused’) that the “overseas part-time student’ refers to ‘overseas part-time students residing in UK’.
Makes sense? Well, almost. Except that they are a UK university and I am a native speaker of English. I pointed out to them that their definition means International Students, non-native but on-shore while Overseas means non native and off-shore (and I reminded them again that the emails history clearly states and explain I am based in Singapore and will be taking the program from here and that the university’s condition was – minimum support with everything via email).
So there you had it, I am left high and dry on this with no avenues to seek help or grievances, the time, effort spend (its 50% work done) and opportunity cost (I deliberately delayed taking my MBA – which I received a partial scholarship merit to outstanding leadership demonstrated in my CV and application essay).
Think such things only happens in 3rd world countries? Think again because this is not the first time a UK university had done this, I had another experience where I made queries to (another) UK university if exemptions is allowed for a particular Master Degree as I already have a Post Graduate Diploma in the same area, I was given the a clear yes, told to make an application and pay an application fee which I promptly did and after which when I tried to proceed with the exemptions, I was told that its against the university’s policy. When I tried to clarify, pointing them to their reply in the previous email (note that this is the same person who told me yes before my application and no after my application), she told me she has to clarify it with her head of department – which is fine with me except that whenever I follow up with her, I would received the same reply – she is still checking with her head of department and this has been going on for years (I still make an effort to check because it amuses me that a top ranking UK university would try to evade responsibility in this manner).
So there you have it, world class education providers from the United Kingdom (hmm, the MBA I applied for is also a top UK university, I wonder if I would get played out the 3rd time).