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Minister's MBA 'came from degree mill'

Minister's MBA 'came from degree mill'

Published: 19 Jun 2007 08:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Jun 2007 08:59 GMT+02:00

Labour Minister Sven Otto Littorin lists on his CV on the government's website an MBA taken at Fairfax University in the United States. The MBA was on the subject of 'a service company's establishment in the United States'.

But Swedish blog Friktion has reported that Fairfax University is listed as a so-called degree mill by many US states.

Degree mills are institutions which are not accredited by the state authorities. Use of their degrees to gain a job is an offence in many parts of the United States. States including Maine, Texas, Oregon and Michigan list Fairfax University as a degree mill. One criticism often levelled at degree mills is that they take undue account of previous life experience.

Fairfax University applied in 2000 for accreditation from the Louisiana Board of Regents, but then withdrew its application, Friktion reports. The board noted in its minutes that "by withdrawing its application, Fairfax University agrees to discontinue operations immediately in Louisiana as an academic degree-granting institution."

Fairfax, now known as Fairfax University Institute, is today registered in the Cayman Islands.

Littorin says he took the MBA as a distance-learning course while working for Swedish-owned PR agency Strategy XXI in New York.

"I considered it to be a serious course, as I had contact with a tutor," Littorin told Expressen on Monday. Asked where the university was situated, he said he did not remember.

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education was unimpressed by Littorin's qualification.

"We would not rate a degree taken there," said Lars Petersson, head of the department for evaluation of foreign qualifications, to Svenska Dagbladet.

A minor scandal erupted in the United States in 2003 when it emerged that a PhD claimed by the Homeland Security Department's deputy chief information officer, Laura Callahan, was from Hamilton University of Wyoming, a known diploma mill.

James Savage (james.savage@thelocal.se)

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