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Greenwich University – Norfolk Island

(Greenwich "University" seems to be in the process of moving from Norfolk Island to California. PB May, 2003)

(This pretend university finally sank beneath the waves. It must never be confused with the University of Greenwich in London, which is a real university. PB 24/1/2019)

Greenwich University claims to be accredited by the Australian Government to operate as a university. It has no such accreditation. It was established on Norfolk Island (an Australian external territory) because it could not have used the word "university" in its name anywhere within Australia proper. The university operated out of Hawaii before moving to Norfolk Island and the official story is that the move was part of a change to a modern distance-learning institution, but if you wanted to set up something like that in Australia you would do it in a major city, not on an island a thousand miles from Sydney.

The "university" claims accreditation because it was established by an Act of the Norfolk Island Parliament. The entire document is nine pages long, which includes a two-page Memorandum of Association of the corporation which runs the university. By comparison, the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the private company I use to operate my consulting business is 13 pages long. It might be instructive to consider the following documents:

Here is a newspaper article about Greenwich University, and you can read here about another time that the owner of GU had some difficulty over an educational institution.

Note: Dr Carl Lindgren, who is described in the SMH newspaper article as the "chair of history, philosophy and education" at Greenwich, has informed me that he severed his association with Greenwich University immediately upon finding out what sort of fraud the place was. He holds legitimate degrees from real universities (BAE, MEd, EdS – University of Mississippi; FCP – College of Preceptors in London; and DEd – UNISA). Metagogics is another word for education history, a perfectly legitimate area of study even if the word is unfamiliar to some.

Unfortunately I cannot change history by revising what was written by someone else and published in a newspaper over which I have no control, but I have no reason to believe that Dr Lindgren has any ongoing relationship with Greenwich University and good reason to believe that he did the right thing as soon as he found out the truth.

A listing of "authorities empowered by governments to accredit qualifications and to issue qualifications" can be found at The name "Greenwich University" does not appear.

The following quote is from the Australian Parliamentary record (Hansard) for the Australian Senate, 5 March, 2001. Unfortunately I can't provide a link to the original because of the way these pages are served, but you can locate it by going to and entering the search request "greenwich and university". For the search I conducted it came up as the third item, under the heading "Question on Notice: Education: Greenwich University".

Education: Greenwich University

(Question No. 3483)

Senator Carr asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, upon notice, on Monday, 5 March 2001:

With reference to Greenwich University: Can the Minister ensure that the department provide a detailed response to all the allegations raised by Dr John Walsh of Brannagh in an article in the Campus Review of 2 March 2001:

Senator Ellison —The Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

Allegations raised in the Campus Review Article of 2 March 2001 are shown in italics. The Departmental response is provided following each allegation.

CR: One might wonder why no report was tendered. One might wonder at the peculiar timing, and the fact that no advice was given either to Greenwich University or to the Norfolk Island Government.

The Review Committee met on 6 December 2000 to discuss the final report and recommendations. The report was presented to the Minister on 7 December and he made a statement in the house that day.

CR: Greenwich itself had difficulty in obtaining a copy of the report, and had to make an application under the Freedom of Information Act. As at the date of writing neither the University nor the Norfolk Island Government has been able to get a copy of the full and complete report. The University, after a number of repeated requests, obtained the first 33 pages plus two abbreviated appendices. The author or authors are not identified!"

The Minister wrote to his MCEETYA colleagues advising that he accepted the recommendations of the committee and asking for their views. He requested a response by 15 December 2000 so the matter could be finalised quickly. There was no disagreement from any of the States and Territories and the Minister signed a letter to the Vice-Chancellor of Greenwich University on 18 December 2000 advising that a copy of the report was attached (this was sent electronically on 20 December and receipt of the report was acknowledged on 21 December 2000).

On this occasion only the main body of the report was sent as the appendices were identical to those of the draft report with the exception of the Greenwich University response to the draft report and comments on the response that were prepared by the secretariat for the benefit of the committee.

Greenwich wrote on 5 January 2001 (letter received 15 January) asking for a complete copy and received an immediate reply to the effect that:

"The appendices to the report were not included with the copy of the report that was emailed to you because all items with the exception of Greenwich University's response to the draft (which is your document) and the Secretariat's comments on that response are identical to the draft report. I have sent these two appendices to you by Australia Post.

Sending another copy of the other appendices seemed to be an unnecessary duplication, however these can be provided if required. Please let me know if you require another copy of the other appendices."

As the report is the report of the Committee and membership of the Committee is included at Appendix 1, it does not seem necessary to designate authors.

CR: The 520 page response the university made to the draft report in August last year has been doctored and most of the responses have been left out. The original submission of 614 pages from the university is also now not available from DETYA, as are other relevant documents.

The response of Greenwich University to the draft consisted of comments plus copies of documentation from the original self-assessment document. Both the comments and the documentation were inserted into the text throughout the draft report. Greenwich University responded in this way both to the main body of the draft report and to each of the assessment panel reports and the report of the Financial Assessment. Many of the comments and much of the documentation was duplicated between the response to the assessment reports and the relevant sections of the main body of the report.

The assessment reports were commissioned by the committee to inform its decision about the University's academic and financial standards. Copies were included with the draft report in line with natural justice requirements so the University had an opportunity to reply. The appendix attached to the final report was limited to the Greenwich comments pertaining to the main body of the report. There was some concern about including even this much of the response since Greenwich University mentions several people by name and attributes remarks to the Deloitte's representative that are considered by that person to be potentially libellous. Greenwich University's response to the assessment reports have been left out (although the comments on each of the relevant sections in the main report are included) and the comments have been isolated from the text of the draft report however they have not been 'doctored' in any way.

The report of the financial assessment was not included in the final report as it was marked "Commercial in Confidence" by Deloitte, Touche, Tomatsu and the salient feature, stated in the main body of the report was that, "Based on the limited information provided to date, Deloitte are not able to form or offer an opinion regarding the financial position or the economic viability of Greenwich." The financial assessment was carried out in March 2000. The draft report was sent to the University for comment in July 2000 and the final report was completed in December 2000. Greenwich University did not provide any additional documentation over this nine month period.

The reference to the original submission is not clear but we are unaware of any request to have access to this information.

CR: No application has ever been made by Greenwich for listing on the AQF Register.

The application for listing on the AQF was made by the Norfolk Island Government, which has observer status on Ministerial Council for Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA).

CR: The AQF and MCEETYA advised Greenwich that as soon as the legislation was enacted (the Greenwich University Act) and the university commenced operating on Norfolk Island, it would be listed automatically on the AQF list, as all universities established pursuant to state or territory legislation were automatically placed on the Register.

We have no information that would indicate any such advice was given. In November 1998 the Department of Transport and Regional Services sought confirmation from Dr Walsh that he wanted to proceed with the Greenwich University relocation to Norfolk Island given that the business would face restrictions if conducting business on the mainland using the word "University" as part of its name.

The Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs was never consulted about the proposed establishment of a university on Norfolk Island or given an opportunity to comment on the legislation before the Act was passed.

Greenwich University was never accredited in the USA and anyone with any knowledge of recognition or accreditation matters, who might have been consulted prior to the move to Norfolk Island would have considered this to be a matter of considerable concern.

CR: Another peculiarity is the strange wording, which says Greenwich did not "meet the standards expected of Australian universities", rather than the standards existing as such. The word "expected" rather than actual or extant is somewhat odd.

Recognition and accreditation of higher education institutions and courses is a matter for State and Territory higher education authorities in Australia. These authorities have a wealth of experience and expertise in this area and were, therefore, commissioned to undertake assessment of three discipline areas. Three different States were asked to undertake the assessment because this reduced any risk of bias and also spread the cost as they waived the normal assessment fee. The panels worked independently but all three found that Greenwich would not be accredited in their respective States. The following quotes from the panel reports illustrate the concerns:

"The (Theology) Panel was also of the opinion that the coursework presented to it for evaluation was not of equivalent quality to that offered by other Australian universities at postgraduate level. The Panel found that most of the units it examined were more typical of introductory undergraduate studies than coursework in postgraduate programs in Australian universities. The Panel also found no evidence that the coursework available to students in the School of Theology would prepare students adequately to write a thesis at Master's or PhD level according to Australian university standards."

"The (Business) panel's view was that some of the course content is more appropriate to 'bridging type' courses rather than as credit towards a post graduate qualification. This was a concern in relation to the standard of the proposed course compared to relevant courses offered by Australian universities."

"It is the view of the panel that the student work submitted by Greenwich as suitable examples of the standard of work were not of the appropriate standard. Over the period 1996 to 1998, the supplementary material identified one doctorate and three masters completions in Computing and four doctorate and five masters completions in Business. The PhD research theses were essentially descriptive reports, lacked analytical content and did not contribute to the body of knowledge in the academic area."

"The (health sciences) panel considered the depth of the course work components inappropriate to Nursing studies, post graduate studies in Health Science and Psychology in Australian universities."

The committee that visited Norfolk Island was given an opportunity to examine some PhD theses submitted by students of Greenwich University (Hawaii) and found that the standard of scholarship was well below what would be acceptable in other Australian universities. A lengthy examination of these documents was not required in order to make this assessment.

CR: When are all the other universities to be so reviewed? The other question is why all universities are not taken off the AQF list until such time as their reviews are complete.

The fundamental difference between Greenwich University and other Australian universities is that the Greenwich University Act was passed by the Norfolk Island Government without the university undergoing any assessment or accreditation process. This matter was not addressed directly by either the Norfolk Island Government or Greenwich University until the Norfolk Island Government responded to the draft report. In his response, Mr George Smith stated: "The Norfolk Island Government (NIG) recognises that the matter of accreditation is basically a matter between Greenwich University and the Australian accreditation authorities and whilst the NIG has been supportive of the development of a Norfolk Island University and will continue to do so the NIG has never purported to be an accrediting authority."

This explains why it was necessary to establish a review of Greenwich University. Other universities are listed on the AQF because they successfully sought accreditation through a recognised higher education authority. Greenwich did not seek accreditation prior to the request for listing on the AQF registers and the review, which was comparable to an accreditation process, concluded that its standards were not high enough to warrant listing on the AQF registers.

CR: A difficulty faced by those who take only a superficial look at Greenwich is that we are different. Our method of operation is different, out standards are different (but not inferior in any way), our staff are different and our faculty are certainly very different.

The Review Committee spent several meetings drafting the review criteria, which were based on criteria used by State and Territory recognition and accreditation authorities. The committee was very aware of the differences in approach between a traditional university and a university operating totally in the distance education mode and it put considerable effort into accommodating these differences. Greenwich was consulted at every stage of the process including the Review Criteria and membership of the assessment panels. The review was a rigorous process involving authorities from three States and Territories as well as the financial consultant and the review committee. This could hardly be considered a 'superficial look'.

CR: What does the University mean when it says that Australia is denying it the avenues of applying for listing on a UNESCO register and complicating its request for listing with the Association of Commonwealth Universities?

Both these registers are based on universities that have been accredited by recognised accreditation authorities in the home country. In the case of Australia, they are based on the AQF registers.

CR: The review team (of four) visited the university for less than four hours. During that time they spent less than 10 minutes flicking through some old theses from the Hilo office. They did not speak to one student, one graduate or one faculty member.

The Committee had received the reports of the three assessment panels and the financial report before it visited Norfolk Island. It used this visit to become familiar with the administrative structure and facilities on Norfolk Island. An agenda for the visit was sent to the University in advance of the visit and the University could have used the opportunity to present its case. The theses given to the committee were chosen by the University. While the review committee did not speak with anyone other than staff on Norfolk Island, the theology panel interviewed three graduates nominated by the University by teleconference.

CR: Yet only two weeks after the Norfolk Island Act was proclaimed in the Government Gazette a senior bureaucrat in DETYA was denying the very existence of the legislation and even had a message placed on the world wide web to that effect.

In January 1999 a senior member of DETYA responded to a piece of correspondence asking about Greenwich University with the comment that "Greenwich University is neither part of the publicly funded sector nor recognised as a private sector university. The only privately funded universities are Bond University and the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle, Perth. There are a number of non-university higher education institutions which offer courses which are accredited by the relevant State/Commonwealth authority. I understand that the Commonwealth of Australia is responsible for higher education in Norfolk Island. As far as I know, 'Greenwich University' has not been recognised by the Commonwealth of Australia as an institution offering higher education courses"

I received the following email. My reply is the part in italics.

Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 19:00:04 EST
Subject: Re Greenwich University

Dear Sir: I am a former student of Greenwich University who obtained both bachelors and an MBA from that institution before registering. I took three years to complete my Ph.D and my dissertation was seen by another Univeristy to which I applied for a teaching position and I was told that the standard of my work was above that which was required for a degree.

Did you get the job?

Most of the faculty have degrees from fully accredited universities, and Dr John Bear was of Bears Guide, and an expert in fraudulent diploma mills certified this as a legitmate unveristy in his "Guide to Non-Traditional Degrees" published by Ten Speed Press. He also owned a share in the University before selling that share to Dr Brannagh.

The standard of the courses are not easy and there are other institutions such as St Clements which is definately a diploma mill, which operates on the mainland which the Australian Government has turned a blind eye too.

The only St Clements University I can find has an address in the Turks & Caicos Islands, British West Indies. This is a very long way from the mainland of Australia.

The government of Australia intends to open its own virtual university and Greenwich is an obstacle to that university.

The government of Australia does not run universities, and even if it did Greenwich would not be an "obstacle". Several real universities in Australia already run programs which can be taken completely online, except that attendance at some physical location may be required for some examinations.

The Dean of Faculty for the school of business for example has a doctorate from Durham university, and other institutions and has successfully taught at Canadian Universities and is listed in Canada's whos who. I am quite dubious about the story which you have written as Dr Brannagh and his partner do not have a university which issues medical degrees. If you examined the web site you would see that the only one is one to do with medical law .

The word "medical" appears nowhere in anything I have written or quoted about Greenwich "University".

Greenwich University does not print degrees for a fee, course work has to be undertaken by a qualified mentor and I would appreciate if you would read Bears Guide both past and present before slandering this school.

I don't see Greenwich listed on the Bears Guide web site, although I do see eight real universities in Australia.

George Shippey Ph.D

Greenwich does not appear on the list of accredited universities operating under Australian jurisdiction. Degrees from the institution are not valid qualifications for teaching or research employment at any Australian university, and it is doubtful whether entry could be gained to any graduate study program based solely on an undergraduate degree from Greenwich. I realise that it costs much more (and takes more effort) to get a piece of paper from Greenwich than it does from the diploma mills that will send out a testamur in exchange for a few hundred dollars. I am sorry that you have wasted so much money and time. One of the objectives of my site is to warn people about conmen and frauds, but there is little I can do for people who have already been victimised.

And another:

Date: Mon, 12 May 2003 16:1:1 +0900
From: "Thor May"
Subject: Greenwich University -- comment


I stumbled on your site by accident. You have done a nice hatchet job on Greenwich University ( I have no particular brief for the place .. except that I hold a Masters from it, issued in 1994 when it was still Hawaii based. At least at that time it seemed like a reasonable option.

Why did I choose Greenwich? Well I had walked away from a PhD candidacy at the University of Newcastle, NSW, after doing a lot of work on it, and publishing a couple of long papers (one 40 pages) in the Australian Journal of Linguistics. I was also cheesed off, because with knowledge and experience well beyond a normal MA (particularly so-called coursework MAs) I could still only lay claim to a BA.

In fact, after my preliminary postgrad' year at Newcastle, when the indigenes got Honours degrees, the university had said their regulations (at that time, 1978) had no provision for offering any scrap of paper to outsiders (I'd come from Victoria University of Wellington, NZ). The head of department gave me a letter saying my work was "equivalent to first class honours standard". Personal letters don't hack a lot of kudos on the mean streets.

I went hunting for a way to get my work accredited for an MA in some way that had a modicum of credibility, didn't cost the earth (I was nearly broke), and wouldn't involve pointless time serving in some university so they could add another postgraduate name to their books.. (most of the bastards play a game that says you come to their institution innocent of prior knowledge and can't possibly use whatever you've done before).

Bear's Guide pointed me at Greenwich as about the best available non-traditional university which could be talked into assessing my work as it stood. I assembled a portfolio. There was no additional coursework. They hired my old supervisor from the University of Newcastle as adjunct faculty. He knew me as well as anyone. He was Head of Department, and I had also taught the department's courses part-time for several years. The Greenwich system required 30 credits for an MA. He gave me 41 credits (49 needed for a PhD).

Now you are right that Greenwich doesn't have great brand name recognition. On the other hand, it does you no honour to smear by implication everyone who might be carrying a piece of paper from the place. I'm not ashamed of anything I've written, and it is all still on my very large website, The Passionate Skeptic, .

The role and status of modern universities is a vexed question. Most real research, especially in the humanities, can now be done with a good internet connection from anywhere. Universities should be open colloquiums of active minds. Those of us who have spent years around the places know that by and large this is not the case. What of their products, the graduates? Some of course are impressive. But sadly most don't have an original idea to bless themselves with. Those shoals of 51% pass graduates, and even the plodding postgraduates who cauterize their brains with endless quotations, toddle out into the world annointed with the titles of their lofty institutions. They even believe that their knowledge is special. Certainly, employers buy the brand name, and rarely inquire after the substance of real achievement. In fact, most of those graduates understood a fraction of what they read, and quickly forget most of that. If you probe their insight, too often there is little to find. (See my little essay "Pissing On Every Lamp Post : the paradox of scholarship" at ).

So what are we to make of the vendetta between the Australian educational establishment and Greenwich? I think this is best separated from that class of events related to sports matches (your side/my side) and tribal warfare. Greenwich is an institution; so are the Australian universities. Each are composed of imperfect individuals, some of whom are well meaning and capable, others dubious. It may be that the principals of Greenwich fall into the dubious category nowadays. I don't know. But institutions have a constant stream of clients passing through their doors, and those clients when mutated into graduates (or whatever) deserve to be taken on their individual merits.

By the way, the current web address of Greenwich is .

Regards, Thor May 2003-05-12


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