Profile photos of Cambridge International University faculty members in question

PHOTO: Cambridge International University

PETALING JAYA - Checks on the US-based Cambridge International University from which Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya obtained his degree in business administration have raised more questions on its legitimacy.

The faculty members on the website listed one "associate professor", Dr Patricia Powell, whose profile picture bears the watermark of international online dating site AnastasiaDate that predominantly features East European women.

The profile pictures used for five other women in the adjunct faculty members' list also looked suspiciously like that of fashion models.

One "Mrs Josephine Fernandens" posed with a pout against a green backdrop while a "Dr Teressa Jane Bright" had bare shoulders and eye makeup fit for the runway.

Other faculty and adjunct faculty members also bore suspiciously low resolution profile pictures.

Attempts by The Star to email multiple faculty and adjunct faculty members for clarification failed when the mail delivery subsystem noted that these email addresses could not be found or the server was unable to receive mail.

The response from the remote server read: "550 No Such User Here".

With 150 programmes offered, the institution, which claimed to have existed since 1990, only had 12 faculty members and only 13 adjunct faculty members listed on the website.

A Google search on the names of each faculty and adjunct faculty member turned up nothing, neither a LinkedIn profile nor research papers published under them.

Marzuki, who previously said he had a degree from the University of Cambridge pursued through a distance learning programme, admitted on Wednesday that his degree was actually from the Cambridge International University in the United States.

Since that admission, the institution has come under intense scrutiny and increasing suspicion that it is a "diploma mill" that awards degrees with little or no study.

According to higher learning websites, indicators that an institution may be a diploma mill: it is not accredited; doesn't have a physical address or location listed on the website; admissions entirely depend on a valid Visa or MasterCard; and the website not having an (.edu) web domain.

On its website, Cambridge International University admits it has not been accredited by an accrediting agency recognised by the US Secretary of Education, adding that "accreditation is a strictly voluntary option in the US".

"There is no mandate by federal law for a school, college or university to be accredited. Many good schools are not accredited," it said.

There was also no physical address or location of the institution's office listed on the website, which also does not have the (.edu) domain.

Cambridge International University has no affiliation with the prestigious University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

The US-based institution only offers "distance learning" programmes with degree courses costing as low as US$5,000 (S$6,800) with fees payable via PayPal.