Questions about Tsai Ing-wen’s 1984 London School of Economics thesis just will not go away and the University of London is growing tired of the “large number of enquires”about the controversial thesis. Tsai, President of the Republic of China in-exile, kicked a hornet nest last summer when she filed her doctoral thesis with the London School of Economics Library, thirty-five years late.
Tsai’s thesis, entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions, was not filed in 1984 with the LSE Library as required. Last year, after public pressure, Tsai submitted the tardy thesis but initially kept it under copyright restriction with no online version, unlike other LSE thesis papers which were posted. After multiple scholars raised questions about the thesis, Tsai relented and permitted it to be available to the public online. Careful academic scrutiny that followed did not disclose plagiarism but did reveal what appears to be a draft document with various fonts, pagination and footnote issues, and handwritten marks, raising the question whether Tsai actually completed her thesis.
The academic controversy fueled Freedom of Information requests to the London School of Economics and the parent University of London. Rosalind Frendo, Secretary to the Board of the University of London, says Tsai Ing-wen controls information about the thesis and refuses to name the examiners who approved the thesis.
In response to a scholar’s recent request about the thesis oral examination, Frendo says, “I do not believe that the requirements for transparency outweighs the privacy of individuals in the context of this request.”
“In regards to formal verification, this is provided by the University Transcripts Office and it generates a new record, the official “Confirmation of Award” letter. This is distinct from Freedom of Information, which relates to information held by the University at the point of the request. To fulfill its obligations under FOIA, the University has confirmed it holds records of Dr. Tsai’s award. Letters of confirmation can be requested from the University but require signed authorization from the student and a fee.”
“The University and the London School of Economics have received a large number of enquiries across multiple channels regarding this subject. There are some other details disclosed in similar requests that may be relevant.”
“The University can confirm its records state that the examiners reviewed the thesis and examined the candidate orally on the subject of the thesis.”
“Dr. Tsai was recorded on the University’s 1984 pass list.”
“I have reviewed the Information Commissioner’s guidance…”Dealing with vexatious requests”. Whilst I do not feel the threshold has been reached by your request alone, the volume of requests and enquiries for information across multiple requesters does suggest that it may be in the near future, especially in light of current events.”
Although Tsai has bragged the two thesis examiners were so impressed with her thesis they wanted to award her a double degree she refuses to name them and will not permit either LSE nor the University of London to disclose their identity. The LSE refusal to name the examiners is contrary to precedent where the examiners’ identities have been previously disclosed, thus creating a double standard favoring Tsai Ing-wen.
There is a pending complaint against the University of London over the refusal to name the thesis examiners in the Information Commissioner’s Office. No date for an ICO decision has been announced.