Community & Education Hong Kong

New equality watchdog chief in alleged academic supervision controversy – report

Equal Opportunities Commission Chief Alfred Chan Cheung-ming allegedly supervised a student for her PhD thesis for Philippines’ Tarlac State University, while he was a professor at Lingnan University, Apple Daily reported.

Tarlac State University (TSU) was previously found to have been involved in a “diploma mill” operation run by Lifelong College. Additionally, Chan reportedly failed to report his involvement to Lingnan University.

Between 2008 and 2011, Chan supervised a PhD dissertation, written by a student – pro-establishment DAB District Councillor Annie Tang King-yung – at Lingnan University. The PhD was rejected by the university in 2011.

alfred chan cheung-ming

Alfred Chan. Photo: i-Cable screencap.

Apple Daily reported that while Tang launched an appeal to Lingnan University, she also applied to a PhD programme at TSU, where she was again supervised by Chan. She was awarded a PhD degree from TSU in 2012. In 2013, after her appeal, Tang was also awarded a Master’s degree by Lingnan University instead of a PhD.

Chan told the newspaper that TSU and Community-College-at-Lingnan-University had a collaboration agreement and “they have the same management… the same organisation so there is no special reporting needed – there is only a need to report at the end of the year.”

Lingnan University told Apple Daily that when a professor supervises a PhD at another university, it is commonly seen as something that needs to be reported. However, it had no record that Chan reported the case to Lingnan.

Annie Tang and Alfred Chan

Annie Tang and Alfred Chan in the middle, showcasing their jointly published book. Photo: Lingnan University via Apple Daily.

Apple Daily reported that the PhDs submitted to both universities were largely similar, and that a book jointly published by Chan and Tang in 2014 was also similar in content.

‘Unethical’ 

Pro-democracy Labour Party and Polytechnic University Lecturer Fernando Cheung said to Apple Daily that it was unethical of Chan to not report his relationship with TSU to Lingnan. He also said that it was unlikely for Lingnan University would have approved Chan’s application since TSU ranked lower than Lingnan University in terms of academic standards.

“This makes it seem like he wanted to help the student get a PhD no matter what, why did he have to do that? It makes it seem that these two have a special relationship,” said Cheung to Apple Daily.

HKFP has contacted the EOC for comment.

New equality watchdog chief in alleged academic supervision controversy - report