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Revealed: another top adviser has dodgy degree

A SECOND Government adviser is at the centre of controversy over a "worthless" university degree. Dr Con Power obtained his doctorate from the Pacific Western University (PWU) which has been criticised for being little more than a "degree mill".

A SECOND Government adviser is at the centre of controversy over a "worthless" university degree.

Dr Con Power obtained his doctorate from the Pacific Western University (PWU) which has been criticised for being little more than a "degree mill".

The disclosure is further embarrassment for the Government as Dr Power has been a hugely influential figure on the Irish landscape for many years and is a former economic adviser in the Taoiseach's department.

It comes days after Barry McSweeney was forced to quit as the Government's Chief Science Adviser. He had also obtained his doctorate from the Pacific Western University.

A leading authority on degree mills, former FBI consultant Dr John Bear, said last night that either man would be committing a criminal offence if they used their PWU doctorates in New Jersey or in a dozen other states in the US.

"They could, in theory, be fined or even jailed in many states," he told the Irish Independent.

Dr Power chairs the Financial Services Ombudsman Council and is vice-chair of the Irish Nationwide Building Society.

He was the first chairman of the National Roads Authority, a post he held for five years. He was also Director of Economic Policy with the employers' body, Ibec, and was previously director of the Regional Technical College in Sligo.

Dr Power insisted last night that he had a legally awarded and academically valid PhD that was obtained on completion of a rigorous programme backed by many years of research and publications.

The university is listed as approved on two California state websites. But the former FBI consultant Dr Bear said there was a world of difference between "approval" and "accreditation" - Pacific Western University degrees were academically worthless and were not accredited. The Qualifications Authority of Ireland does not recognise any degrees from Pacific Western University.

Dr Power told the Irish Independent that his PhD was never a factor in his work as he obtained his last career employment in open competition in 1979, nine years before he was awarded the doctorate.

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He said he was on secondment to the Department of the Taoiseach as Special Economic Development Officer from 1 April 1992 to the end of April the following year. His salary was paid for by the Confederation of Irish Industry (now IBEC) and was recouped from the department.

He strongly denied that he was ever an adviser to the Taoiseach Albert Reynolds or to any other politican.

Defending his decision to take his doctorate at the Pacific Western University, Dr Power said he read an advertisement and decided to pursue it.

"I cannot see how me holding an earned PhD is a matter of public interest," he said. "I have a BComm [Hons - UCD - 1963], MEconSc [Hons - UCD - 1965], together with three earned professional business qualifications - FCIS, FCMA, FCIS," he added.


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