I serve as Chancellor for two sister universities, the Western Orthodox University, which was founded in 1945, and European-American University, which I co-founded in 2003. These institutions operate jointly and are enabled by the Western Orthodox University’s degree-granting powers under its corporate charter awarded in 2007 by the Commonwealth of Dominica, with European-American University additionally holding a Royal Charter from a reigning African monarch. Both universities hold validation agreements with universities in Central America, with this network extending to over twenty university-level institutions. The Western Orthodox University is a religious institution and its programmes are informed by its Christian outlook, while European-American University is a secular institution.
Under my leadership the Universities have established a network of over twenty affiliated campuses, principally located in sub-Saharan Africa, which deliver programmes leading to their awards, targeting principally mid-career professionals seeking a bespoke educational experience. I have been fortunate to attract a number of exceptional people to become part of the work of the Universities as faculty and advisors, and the overall network of tutorial and examining expertise now embraces a family of many hundreds.
After several years of close professional association, I became International President of OXCEL – the Oxford Centre for Leadership, in 2013, and head this institution which trains and recognizes leaders in many fields, being particularly active in south-east Asia. I also hold consulting, honorary and emeritus professorships at universities on three continents, most notably a Full Professorship in the International Program of my alma mater the Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica (Business University of Costa Rica), where I earned an MBA and PhD.
The vision of education that is promoted through my management is one of tailored solutions for discerning high achievers who wish to engage dynamically with their own individualized educational process and who prefer the efficiency and freedom from bureaucracy that this can offer, rather than the mass market product available elsewhere.
I have worked as a consultant in comparative international education for over a decade, following a career in colleges and universities in the UK and abroad that had included positions in teaching, administration and management. In 2005, I was invited to join Career Consulting International, a foreign credential evaluation firm headquartered in Florida, USA, and worked closely with CCI’s Executive Director, Dr Sheila Danzig, to take the business forward to its present success.
Specializing in the most difficult and demanding credential-related work, particularly responding to Referrals for Evidence, denials and appeals in United States immigration petitions, I have prepared over five thousand expert opinions on education for use before what is now the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, and in my role as Director of Expert Opinion Services work with a team of field experts and our client law firms, which include numerous prominent and successful immigration law practices.
I am also an expert on distance education and the phenomenon of diploma mills, and have argued that many aspects of the treatment of these phenomena represent the protectionism of the education establishment as it attempts to stifle any form of disruptive innovation through manufactured outrage. I have consulted professionally in these areas for clients around the world. I have particular interests in small, proprietorial and unusual schools and their role as an educational counter-establishment.
Writings on education
My writings on education are strongly critical of the education establishment and the current university system. My book “The University Outside State Control” draws on examples including the University of Buckingham in the UK as well as distance education institutions in the UK, the USA, and Denmark. In it, I discuss the overwhelmingly negative results of the increasing control of higher education by government in the post-1945 era and make a case for an independent, proprietorial model of individualized higher education in contrast to mass and centralized systems. My earlier work “A History of the Central School of Religion” examines the work and critical reception of one of the oldest US-based correspondence universities, of which I am now a Fellow.
In my view, the transition in education towards centralization and government control is ideologically and politically motivated, and this forms part of my wider traditionalist criticism of Cultural Marxism. I have called for a traditionalist educational counter-establishment that can balance this with a concentration upon outcomes rather than processes, individual student need rather than the imposition of university systems, and the scholarly approach of the Right. I am a particular critic of postmodernism and of scientific and historical method (particularly peer review) when applied to the arts and humanities, holding that such areas are inherently subjective and that the imposition of scientific and historical methods are generally attempts at soft censorship and the reinforcement of Leftist hegemony.
The search for the seeds of my desired educational counter-establishment led me to an in-depth study of alternative higher education across the globe, including both teaching and candidacy for awards, and, for a time, engagement in online controversy in which I debated advocates for government control who sought the elimination of legitimate alternative educational provision in small, niche distance learning institutions outside the educational mainstream.
In the course of my first-hand exploration of individualized distance learning, I served as a part-time member of faculty at the former Knightsbridge University, a private distance learning university in Denmark between 2003 and 2008, after completing a PhD in Music by published work there. I gained many valuable learning experiences while associated with Knightsbridge, and am particularly grateful for the encouragement of Professor Walter H. Willies, with whom I continue to work today, and my degree advisor Professor Reginald von Zugbach de Sugg.
Until its closure, I served as a Founder Member of the former World University Roundtable under the late Dr Howard John Zitko, which was based on the Desert Sanctuary Campus in Benson, Arizona, USA, and I have also been an adviser to several universities in Africa and South-East Asia. My other experiences included studying at the doctoral level at a Pentecostal seminary in Texas and at several universities in Central America, obtaining a certificate in management from INSEAD, and engaging in detailed dialogue with university owners and managers who demonstrated highly varied and sometimes unconventional ideological perspectives and insights into their sector. One consequence of this process is that I now hold a wide range of degrees and other academic awards from institutions all over the world, all of which were earned after the submission of the necessary coursework, a thesis, or the assessment of a portfolio of previously published work. I have also been fortunate to be awarded several honorary degrees in recognition of my achievements.
Education versus training
Today, education tends to be confused with training. Training is concerned with preparing a person for a given profession or vocation. It is necessarily reductive, because the professional demands in question will set the scope for what is required of the student. The result of successful training is the attainment of a credential, which is effectively a passport to entry at a given level to a profession. Education, on the other hand, is considerably broader and more open-ended. It involves the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and without necessarily directing that knowledge towards fulfilling a uniform set of requirements. If it results in an academic award, that award is not necessarily a credential but instead represents a more personal and subjective attainment, though not necessarily one of any less rigour than a credential.
Those who seek credentials will usually find that their options for training are restricted to those institutions, usually controlled by the state, that can supply what their chosen professions require. Those seeking educational opportunities have a wider choice available to them, including institutions that are outside state systems. The main reason for this division is that the supply of credentials is the supply of a standardized product. It is a process that is readily susceptible to mechanisms of quality assurance, accreditation and monitoring that are designed to produce uniformity of outcome and to limit any variation so that it falls within accepted norms. The supply of education is stifled and hindered by all of these things, and flourishes in their absence.
It might be thought that education is a luxury to be reserved to the ivory tower. Certainly, governments have tended to take this view. Consider the words of the British Education Secretary in 2003 when he said that “I argue that what I described as the medieval concept of a community of scholars seeking truth is not in itself a justification for the state to put money into that.”
I have been fortunate to have experienced both education and training. I hold credentials – among them three doctorates and three master’s degrees – which are all from universities fully accredited by their respective governments. As a foreign credential evaluator, I am also primarily concerned with the equivalency and the certification of credentials. However, as an educationalist, I am primarily interested and engaged not with credentials and with training, but with education. I direct my activities in this regard to those who are free to seek education and who find that process to be meaningful to them for a wide variety of reasons. I have first-hand experience in this regard myself, having studied in a number of different academic and professional contexts purely out of curiosity and avocational interest.