The University of London is conducting an internal review of its privacy exemption for Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 London School of Economics thesis examiners’ identities. Kit Good, Data Protection and Information Compliance Manager, confirmed that an internal review is underway by the university. Good refused to name the examiners that reviewed Tsai’s thesis. Tsai has not named the reviewers and the London School of Economics would not or could not identify the mystery scholars.
Good replied to a Freedom of Information request for the identities of Tsai’s thesis reviewers by citing a privacy restriction and responded, “The University of London confirms that Ms. Ing-Wen Tsai was awarded a PhD by the University of London in 1984 and she was registered as an LSE student.”
In response to my request for an internal review of the privacy restriction Good said, “The University will carry out an internal review in accordance with the guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office.”
Good offered up an LSE media release and provided an online link to Tsai’s thesis which shows over a thousand downloads. Tsai filed the 1984 thesis with the LSE Library in 2019, thirty-five years late, triggering questions about the thesis approval process. A number of Taiwanese scholars have come forward and voiced criticism and asked unanswered questions of Tsai’s thesis raising the controversy to a political issue.
Rachel Maguire, the LSE Information and Records Manager, declined to answer questions about the thesis examiners and deferred to the University of London for the answers. “The viva report would be a University of London record. An award letter was sent out from the University of London Registrar on 8 February 1984, degree certificate issued on 14 March 1984.”
Although LSE doesn’t know or will not say who reviewed Tsai’s thesis, the school claims the review was conducted on October 16, 1983. Maguire said the University of London has Tsai’s full record and details should be found there.
The University of London has not announced who is conducting the internal review or when a decision on releasing the identity of the thesis reviewers will be made. If the results of the internal review uphold Good’s privacy exemption the matter will then be taken up outside the university with the Information Commissioner.
The identity of Tsai’s examiners is critical to documenting that Tsai did indeed earn her LSE doctorate. While the school insists Tsai met all the criteria to graduate, the secrecy surrounding the review of the long missing thesis leaves nagging questions that will not go away. Tsai could quiet the storm by simply providing the names of the review panel members but has not yet chosen full transparency by revealing them to the public.