A complaint has been filed against the University of London with Information Commissioner John Edwards over missing examination regulations. The complaint is in response the UL claim that 1983 thesis examination regulations are missing with no copies available. The regulations are at the center of an ongoing controversy over Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen’s 1983 PhD thesis entitled Unfair Trade Practices and Safeguard Actions.
President Tsai kicked a hornet nest when she filed the thesis with the London School of Economics Library in June 2019, thirty-five years late. Tsai refuses to release the oral viva examination report on her thesis and both the LSE and the UL refuse to name the thesis examiners. Amid charges of academic fraud, three names have emerged as purported examiners although the LSE does not consider its records, containing the names, to be accurate. The UL says there were only two examiners, but will not identify them citing Tsai’s right to privacy.
The Freedom of Information request for the examination regulations was made May 10, 2021. The UL stonewalled the request until May 10, 2022, a full year later, only to announce the regulations were missing. The year-long wait for nothing prompted the complaint to the Information Commissioner.
Emily Brick, Information Governance Officer at the UL, offered no explanation how the regulations could be missing. “I am writing to release the additional information requested – the missing pages in the 1983-1984 Regulations for Internal Students and the General Regulations 1983-1984.”
“I have asked colleagues and we could not find any material on the nomination of examiners for the time and composition of examination boards, although we do have these guidelines now which are published on our website.”
The language of the complaint tells the rest of the story.
“As the Commissioner is aware, Complainant has been pursuing a legitimate interest in alleged academic fraud by Republic of China in-exile President Tsai Ing-wen concerning her PhD degree, awarded in 1984 by the UL. During the course of Complainant’s inquiry, the UL has engaged in obfuscation in response to a FOIA request concerning the PhD thesis examiners speculating President Tsai’s thesis was lost by the UL library during restructuring, despite prior knowledge the thesis was never received. The First-Tier Tribunal has taken judicial notice of the UL’s false speculation.”
“Complainant believes the response by the UL, of missing thesis examination regulations, to his FOIA request is improbable and part of a pattern of continuing obfuscation directed against Complainant and others seeking information that might shed light on the veracity of allegations of academic fraud.”
“The regulations the UL did provide to Complainant appear to be copied from a bound volume. The examination regulations pages sought by the FOIA request are missing from the pages disclosed. For the UL to be unable to provide the examination regulations they would have had to have been removed from the only existent bound volume of the regulations in all of the UL’s vast collection, library, archives, and regulatory history records.”
“On the basis of a balance of probabilities, it is more likely than not the UL holds the requested examination regulations. Therefore, Complainant respectfully requests the assistance of the Commissioner in obtaining the requested information. Further, in view of the obfuscation and non-compliance with the FOIA, Complainant requests the Commissioner provide the University with Good Practice Recommendations on FOIA compliance.”
In a related case, the Second-Tier Tribunal has scheduled a reconsideration hearing for August 31 over the denial of an appeal to learn President Tsai’s examiner identities. For now, the public is left to wonder who approved Tsai’s tardy thesis and were they qualified to pass judgment.
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