“We shouldn’t ask: what does a person need to know or be able to do in order to fit into the existing social order? Instead we should ask: what lives in each human being and what can be developed in him or her?” – Rudolf Steiner
I am passionate about the university as an institution of the widest intellectual freedom that brings together accomplished individuals to further the pursuit of knowledge and to assess academic achievement without the undue influence of commercial priorities. Having undertaken research and teaching positions within mainstream academia, I became convinced that most mainstream universities were pursuing an increasingly narrow, conformist and intolerant (we would now say “woke”) intellectual approach, from which critical and particularly traditional conservative voices were excluded. I was also interested in the way that the then-new technology of the internet could be combined with progressive approaches to distance learning and assessment for adult students that had evolved from the non-traditional University Without Walls movement in the USA. These approaches addressed themselves to the whole person as an individual, and emphasised lifelong learning as integral to living, thus being markedly opposed to the microspecialism and obsession with measurable output that characterized the mainstream. Consequently, in the early years of the present century, I became one of the founders of a new alternative university that would put this vision into action, and continue to lead it almost twenty years later, also holding several other related positions at university level.
I serve as Chancellor for European-American University, which I co-founded in 2003. The University is incorporated as an international private university in Panama and is registered as a private provider of higher education in France. As European-American University and Theological Seminary it is further empowered by statute as a religious degree-awarding institution in the State of Florida, USA. It holds validation agreements with universities in Central America, with this network extending to over twenty university-level institutions.
Under my leadership, European-American University has established a network of over twenty affiliated campuses, principally located in sub-Saharan Africa, which deliver programmes leading to its 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 University 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.
In my role as the head of the Catholicate of the West, I have responsibility for the Western Orthodox University (founded 1945), Florida, USA, which offers religious degree programmes in Theology and Church Music.
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. I am also Professor of History in the Catholic University “Joseph Pulitzer”, Budapest, Hungary, Associate Professor in Music in the Ruggero II University, The Gambia, Professor Emeritus in Music and Education in the ASAM University, Rome, Italy, Associate Professor of History and Religion in the International Academy of St George, Wyoming, USA, and Honorary Visiting Professor of Music in the Parthasarathy International Cultural Academy, Madras, India.
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.
My work in Africa in particular has opened up positive and life-changing opportunities for many who would otherwise have been denied the chance to pursue their studies by the educational establishment, as well as involving the mentoring of campus leaders who have been empowered as educational entrepreneurs. European-American University has also established itself as a prime mover in the recognition of achievers in Africa, honouring men and women who have made a notable contribution to public service and business.
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 for over fifteen years have worked closely with CCI’s Executive Director, Dr Sheila Danzig, to take the business forward to its present success. In 2005, Dr Danzig and I co-authored research on the equivalence of South-East Asian degrees that subsequently helped to achieve greater justice for professionals from the sub-continent in terms of their treatment by the US authorities.
Specializing in the most difficult and demanding credential-related work, particularly responding to Referrals for Evidence, Denials and Appeals (before the US Citizenship and Immigration Service) 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, also 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, the late 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 distance learning experiences included a master’s degree from a Liberian university, studying at the doctoral level 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 substantive 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, the assessment of a portfolio of previously published work, or the accreditation of prior experiential learning. I have also been fortunate to be awarded several honorary degrees in recognition of my achievements.
Following my Junior Fellowship at the Royal College of Music, I held a number of teaching posts in British higher, further and secondary education. In 1999, I helped start the new Bachelor of Arts joint honours field in Music at London South Bank University and Morley College. I also taught part-time and full-time at several independent schools in London (ISA and CIFE member institutions), successfully teaching subjects including English, History and Business Studies as well as Music and Information Technology at GCSE and A level. Full-time positions included those of Head of Department, Academic Administrator (with external examinations and timetabling responsibilities) and Vice-Principal. I have advised students professionally on pastoral issues, careers, and university and medical school entrance, and am a qualified NVQ assessor (D32 and D33). As well as teaching a number of high-flyers, I also particularly valued my work with students with academic and emotional difficulties who gained new confidence and went on to realise their potential under appropriate guidance.
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.