Saturday 27 December 2014

Dutch Finance Minister amends Cork University degree error

DANIEL McCONNELL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT

Published 14/04/2013 | 17:36

Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem

DUTCH Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem had to amend his official biography that accidentally claimed he obtained an MA from University College Cork.

Mr Dijsselbloem, who gave an address at the college last Thursday, was appointed Finance Minister of Holland last November and his biography was posted on official internet sites of European institutions, including the European Investment Bank, which initially claimed he had received an MA in Business Economics from UCC.

 

However, Mr Dijsselbloem never obtained any degree from UCC, as no such degree exists, and his biography had to be amended to say he “did business economics research towards a master's degree at the University College Cork.”

 

It has transpired Mr Dijsselbloem only spent a couple of months at UCC conducting research in the “Food Business” field. 

 

On his appointment, the erroneous biography that he had obtained a Masters in Ireland was reported as fact in the national media, sparking  an internal investigation within UCC and also with the National University of Ireland, which confirmed he never graduated from there.

 

On November 13 last, Mr Dijsselbloem’s  appointment as Finance Minister of Holland was reported on the official European websites, which included the biography of his past experience and education, which first indicated he had an MA from UCC.

 

It has now  been confirmed that the incorrect information had been supplied by his finance ministry in Holland but officials have been keen to insist that there was no attempt to “misinform about his education.”

 

A European Investment Bank spokesman told the Sunday Independent that the matter was as a result of “translation issues” and that the error was corrected as soon as it became known.

 

He said: “We receive background points as part of the nomination papers provided for a new Finance Minister. In this case the original education summary was amended to clarify that the time in Cork did not lead to a degree. So  there was no wish by the minister to misinform about his education in Cork.”

 

A spokeswoman for Mr Dijsselbloem, who was in Dublin this weekend to attend the Ecofin meeting of finance ministers said he did obtain a masters from Wageningen University in Holland, but that information is not contained in his official biography on the Dutch Government website. It only states that he obtained a primary degree from Wageningen.

 

Last week, UCC in its promotion of the event claimed Mr Dijsselbloem as “one of our own,” and the college authorities said they were delighted to welcome him back to “renew his connections with his former colleagues.”

 

A spokeswoman for UCC said: “When University College Cork (UCC) becomes aware that former students achieve important roles in society we conduct a review of university records so that our celebration of their achievement is informed by information about their attendance at the university.”

 

She added: “When we became aware of proposals to appoint Minister Dijsselbloem as President of the Eurogroup  in January 2013 we noted the comments of Irish Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, TD that Minister Dijsselbloem had studied at UCC.  The university records were examined at that time and we found that Minister Dijsselbloem had carried out research in Dairy Economics as part of his academic programme in Wageningen University.  UCC has long enjoyed diverse cooperative ties with this wonderful university in the Netherlands.”

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