One of Peru’s top presidential candidates, who is a chemical engineer and university founder, risks disqualification by electoral authorities if a doctorate in education he obtained from a Spanish university is revoked because of plagiarism.
César Acuña, who has made education a central theme of his campaign, faces additional accusations of obtaining a chemical engineering degree in Peru after the National University of Trujillo “unanimously disapproved” of his thesis, according to documents obtained by an investigative news outlet.
University documents indicate that after appealing the decision in 1995, Acuña was granted the degree by a department dean. In a statement, the National University of Trujillo said Acuña’s chemical engineering thesis had serious “deficiencies” and qualified it as “hilarious.”
The Peruvian university said it had begun inquiries into Acuña’s academic submissions. His candidate’s thesis was titled “Design for Separation Equipment in a Natural Gas Treatment Plant.”
Meanwhile, the Complutense University of Madrid is investigating plagiarism in Acuña’s 2009 doctoral thesis in education.
Francisco Távara, the head of Peru’s National Jury of Elections, says, “If they withdraw or invalidate his diploma or title, obviously that would mean falsehood.” Távara adds, “He would be removed [from the race] if it’s falsehood.”
Acuña, a wealthy businessman and former governor, is the founder of César Vallejo University, a university consortium with 11 branches in six Peruvian cities.