Civil Service Board Insists It Has Cut Ties With Fake Universities

By Kyaw Myo 9 January 2019

NAYPYITAW—The Union Civil Service Board, a government agency responsible for recruiting and training civil servants, ended partnerships with two unaccredited foreign “universities” last week, a senior board official said after pictures emerged appearing to show that the relationships, which have come in for heavy criticism online, continued.

“We ceased our partnerships on Jan. 4. And we’ve informed the upper echelon [authorities] about it. We’ve also ceased our partnerships on the ground. We’ve negotiated this with [the two foreign institutions],” U Myint Swe, the board’s deputy permanent secretary, told The Irrawaddy.

Myanmar President’s Office Director-General U Zaw Htay told reporters on Monday the board had ended its partnership with U.S.-based Akamai University and Malaysia’s EDS Business School. However, EDS Business School’s logo was printed on a backdrop seen in pictures taken at a welcoming ceremony for officials taking courses at the Central Institute of Civil Service on the same day.

U Myint Swe said the logo’s appearance was just a mistake. “We decided to end our partnership with them on Jan. 4, and reported this to the President’s Office. But due to the public holidays, we only informed [the institute] on Jan. 7. By that time they had already made the backdrop. So they didn’t have time to remove it,” he said.

The move came after a Myanmar scholar doing a degree at Oxford University in England pointed out on social media that the two institutions are not accredited universities and are not recognized by their governments.

He posted pictures of Akamai University in Hawaii showing a small room in a two-story building. The post was shared widely and many netizens questioned the motivation for the Union Civil Service Board chairman’s decision to partner with the institutions in the first place.

At the instruction of the President’s Office, the board is taking steps to partner with foreign universities that are acceptable to the general public, U Myint Swe said.

“We will do whatever it takes to partner with better universities,” U Myint Swe said. “We decided to end the partnerships on our own initiative, not at the instruction of the President’s Office.”

The board partnered with the two universities after forming the Civil Servant Academy in 2017 with the approval of government leaders.