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Widespread Cheating Alleged In Tulane Double-Degree Program

The Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex at the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University, during its dedication ceremony in March 2018. Cheryl Gerber

GLOBAL PARTNERSHIPS ARE COMMON AMONG BUSINESS SCHOOLS

Unlike exchanges, co-curricular programs, immersions, and other B-school offerings, international dual-degree programs are not as common at U.S. business schools. Global schools have increasingly used them in recent years, however. Many global universities offer double and joint degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, though most commonly in the MBA or Master of Finance. But that doesn’t mean Tulane is alone among U.S. schools in partnering with an international peer: The University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, for example, offers six dual-degree global programs for full-time MBA students, and in 2017 Yale SOM partnered with four global schools to launch the M2M, a portfolio of double degrees giving recent university grads the opportunity to complete two master’s degrees by attending two top business schools in two different countries over two years. At the elite level, and well into the middle tier, all B-schools have some level of involvement and collaboration with global partners. It is common for schools in the U.S. South to have initiatives, partnerships, exchanges, and other agreements with schools in Latin America.

It is also common, Hodgson says, for Latin American schools to look the other way when students cheat. “I thought that this particular school, given its mission, would not be like that, but all my Latin friends said, ‘Oh this is predictable.’

“They say only half a dozen schools in Latin America are taken seriously anywhere outside of Latin America. What they do to resolve that is they come up with these partner relationships where they will partner with a British or Spanish school, or maybe even one of the few schools, like the Catholic University of Chile, whatever, one of the actual respected ones, and say, ‘You can study here, and then we’ll do some relational distance programs and whatever works with the other school, you get the grades from both.’ But I don’t know why Tulane does this. It’s just crazy. I mean, they must be really desperate for money.

“I hope we can let other prospective students know about the situation.”

FREEMAN SCHOOL: ‘SAME HIGH STANDARDS’ FOR INTERNATIONAL & DOMESTIC PROGRAMS

Asked about Hodgson’s allegations, Tulane tells Poets&Quants that it has conducted an investigation of the charges.

“The Freeman School takes very seriously any questions regarding the integrity of its international programming,” Michael Strecker, executive director of Tulane public relations, says in an email. “We thoroughly investigated Mr. Hodgson’s allegations of cheating at our International Master of Finance program.

“Since this investigation included student conduct, we are limited by federal law regarding what we can disclose. I can disclose that we investigated the allegations and took the appropriate action. The Freeman School holds all international programs to the same high standards of academic integrity as its domestic programs.”

Emails to Paul Spindt, senior associate dean at Tulane, were not answered. Spindt founded Tulane’s Ph.D. program in Latin America and currently serves as the school’s Keehn Berry chair of banking and finance. A voicemail message left at Tulane Freeman’s media office also was not returned.

‘YOU COULD NOT FIND A WORSE WAY TO DEMEAN YOUR DEGREE’

Tulane’s response did not surprise Hodgson, who says he expected “some boilerplate sentiment about the virtues of their program and how they’d work hard to do this and that.” But now that he’s moved on, he says he can be honest publicly about his experience.

“As you can guess, I did not want to make a fuss or publicize the situation prior to the next application process being over, so I could focus on just getting admitted and preparing for another program—although I did tell some of the admissions officers of my experience,” he says. “I will begin MBA studies at Rice in the fall.

“But the Tulane program is pure credential. I didn’t really know much about Tulane prior to this whole process other than just reputation, but they are just whoring out their name. It’s just really pathetic. It’s just easy money for them because a bunch of Guatemalans come for a few days to get some lessons, they go back to Guatemala, and they get around $20,000 per student. Easy, easy money.

“But other than easy money, this is a huge loss for them. You could not find a worse way to demean your degree than to give it out to a bunch of cheating people who don’t even sit for the exams, you know?”

DON’T MISS: MBA RANKINGS: WHY ARE SCHOOLS WILLING TO CHEAT? or IE BACK ON FT LIST BUT AT A RANK OF 31ST

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