Harvard is one university name that Thai parents would definitely flaunt around if their child was lucky enough to attend. In fact, Harvard is so close to the word of Buddha, that I’m surprised that we don’t worship it’s crest all around the country. Harvard seems to be equated with the truth and it’s graduates perceived as other worldly.
There is no doubt that Harvard is one of the prestigious ivy league schools in the US and ranks high amongst university across the world. When Vanessa Race began blatantly advertising her Harvard degree in several media appearances and interviews, I became suspect of Harvard’s standing as the definitive “number one” university in the world. The Harvard name seemed to be doing a lot for her reputation in Thailand as a “brain expert” even though she lacks a medical or PhD degree. Her claim that one year in Harvard School of Education made her a expert in the brain and all its intricacies and cost her 10 million baht (approximately 280,000 USD) did little to boast her credibility in my eyes.
A quick Google search revealed that in 2005 Times Higher Education Supplement ranked Harvard University number 1 in the world’s top universities, biomedicine universities, and social science universities categories but failed to rank in the top 25 in the technology universities category. The THES – QS World University Rankings 2007 listed Harvard as #1 as well. Checking US New revealed that in America’s Best Colleges 2008 Princeton usurped Harvard from the number 1 spot by one point in the overall score in the National Universities: Top Schools category. Sorry, but that places Harvard soundly as #2 in America’s list of top universities for this year.
I cannot deny that Harvard is one of the top universities in the US and also the world, but these rankings change yearly. In addition, the ranking of a university and its reputation depends on which category you are considering. As I mentioned earlier, Harvard is not well known as a technological school and if technology is your field, I encouraged you to look into MIT instead. In the field of biomedicine and social science, however, Harvard University can still claim number one in the United States.
My next question is: Can a one year degree from Harvard’s Graduation School of Education really give one the right to be called a brain expert, humbly or otherwise. The list of master’s of education programs included:
- Arts in Education
- Education Policy and Management
- Higher Education, Human Development and Psychology
- International Education Policy
- Language and Literacy
- Learning and Teaching
- Mind, Brain and Education
- Risk and Prevention
- School Leadership
- Teacher Education Program
- Technology, Innovation, and Education
It seems that a person claiming to be a brain specialist with a degree from Harvard probably would have completed the Mind, Brain and Education program. Now the Harvard GSE’s website claims that “The Ed.M. is designed to be a yearlong intensive program for students who wish to study a particular field in education, acquire a general theoretical background for understanding past and future field experiences, or develop skills for use in professional work in education.” Nothing is mentioned in the program outline that states, “this program will make you an expert in the field of study.”
As to the cost of one year in the Harvard Graduate School of Education – tuition is listed as 31,696 USD with room & board adding another 13,905 USD. All together Harvard GSE gives a total master’s student budget of 55,128 USD for one year of study. When converted in the Thai baht, this figure is approximately 1.9 million baht and is a far cry from the fabled 10 million baht suggested by Vanessa Race. I wonder what the other 8 million baht paid for. Perhaps she paid the school fees and attendance costs for herself and 4 of her closest friends.
It seems that Harvard’s reputation has been confirmed, although I wouldn’t be so liberal when making such claims as “number one university in the world” and claiming that a one year master’s program cost 10 million. The only reputation that is still questionable here is Vanessa Race’s.