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ه‍.ش. ۱۳۸۷ مهر ۱۲, جمعه

ACCEPTING MORE THAN ONE OFFER IS UNETHICAL

One of the problems that I have recently witnessed in our universities, is related to the behavior of students when they apply for a foreign graduate school. Let me explain the problem, then argue why it is unethical and tarnishes their personality and our reputation.

It makes sense that a prospective student applies to several schools to increase her/his chance for a funded position. In such a circumstance, one may get more than one offer. There is nothing illegal or unethical so far, but a serious problem shows up when the student gets 2 or 3 offers and accepts all of them.

It is now a "common behavior" among our students that a student tries to get one offer from US universities, one from Canada and a third one from Western Europe. S/he then accepts all those
offers, and assures at least two professors about his/her availability by the next fall semester. S/he then applies for visas. This is the moment that two or three professors are simultaneously waiting for this student and all of them have already agreed to pay assistantship (from their grants) to their newly admitted student.

The student under investigation starts with those countries that have embassies in Tehran. S/he just gets appointment, is shortly interviewed, and since s/he has his/her offer letter plus all financial documents, the visa is granted. The prospective student then travels to a third country and applies for a US visa. The story enters its strange episode from now on. If that student does not get the US visa, s/he travels to Canada or Europe and informs his/her host in the US about the visa denial (I could not come because your department of state did not allow me in). However, if that student gets the US visa, s/he flies to the US while at least another professor is waiting for him/her in Canada (or Europe). Unfortunately, this happens almost late August and it is too late to decline the offers made by other schools and give them time to find a replacement. This is an unacceptable and unethical action that most (if not all) students commit.

When I asked one of our students about her reason of doing so, she answered that "come on, this is a norm and it is not our fault. This is a normal reaction to the unusual treatment of western countries toward us. They have created visa problems for us and what we do is quite ethical". She then continued that "if I had known that I would be treated like a citizen of those countries that can easily travel to anywhere that they want, I would accept only one offer".

My own opinion is that whatever the diplomatic relations may be, and whatever the chance of getting a visa is, accepting more than one offer is unethical. It looks like selling a good to more than one customer (at the same time) while none of them knows about less than 50-precent chance of owning the purchased material.

Please educate your students that: getting or not getting a visa, getting or not getting an admission, getting or not getting financial support, all depend on enormous factors, and this is LIFE. If I was in Bam few years ago, I had most likely died by the quake. Or, if I had come into existence at the time of Newton when the plaque killed thousands, again, I would have probably died! But now I am on the planet Earth. This is life. In short term, sometimes we get what we deserve and sometimes no. But in long term, we DEFINITELY get what we deserve.

What do you think ?