OPINION: My eQuals is Bullshit

OPINION: My eQuals is Bullshit

That $30 could have been spent on vodka, you monsters

“Pay $30 so that employers can trust that your grades are what you say they are, you lying/untrustworthy/deceitful student.” Underneath it all, that’s the vibe of My eQuals. The system is based on the idea that students want to scam employers by sending them false academic transcripts. So, apparently, we have to pay $30 to ensure employers can trust us.

For those who like to ignore emails from the University, and especially emails from companies loosely affiliated with the University, My eQuals is an online platform which lets you share your grades electronically. Every semester for the past two years, Otago students received an email with a link to the website after exam results come out. Subject line: ‘Your documents have been updated by University of Otago’.

There is very little explanation around the whole thing. One email went out when it was implemented, then no communication. You make an account on their website, and the webpage shows you nothing. It just requests your payment details so that you can see the document. And then you pay $30, and share your transcript with a link.

Or you don’t, because fuck paying $30 on top of the fees you already pay to the University to share the grades you have already earned.

I’m not suggesting that there are sinister intentions behind My eQuals. The whole thing is well-intentioned. All universities across New Zealand and Australia are implementing the website. Basically, they decided they needed a service that would allow people to share their verified academic transcripts online. My eQuals made the lowest bid to provide that service, so it was introduced. And two years on, we’re still paying to not use it.

Maybe I’m just being cheap, but if you’re going to trial a new system on students, don’t make them pay for it. Especially when the new system holds no real benefit for students. At the moment, employers don’t care whether your transcript is a paper copy or an unofficial PDF of your results or a link via My eQuals. Janet, the fifty-year-old HR manager dealing with your emails, does not really care which form of academic transcript you’ve sent. Of the three options, My eQuals is the option most likely to confuse her, because it takes her to a website rather than giving her a document which she can chuck in a folder with the rest of your application.

As a free service, is it useful? Yes. But it’s aggravating that we are supposed to pay in order to gain the trust of employers rather than just flicking through an email. Whatever the lofty aims of digitising our academic transcripts, the current system introduces an unnecessary expense to the already-stressful graduate job application process. It sets up a digital wall between you and your academic transcript. To take down that wall, you have to pay up.

I have doubts about the long-term potential of the My eQuals. For anyone who doesn’t remember, high schools and intermediates across the country have tried to roll out educational CV-type websites that would be valuable to our careers, like My Portfolio. As far as I’m aware, those systems still exist, but they haven’t caught on in the way schools hoped they would, or lived up to the way that they were advertised to students. I have very little faith that My eQuals will go a different way.

The University can use students as a trial for a new qualification sharing system. That’s fine. But don’t charge us to be part of that trial.

This article first appeared in Issue 15, 2019.
Posted 11:20pm Thursday 11th July 2019 by Erin Gourley.