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I graduated from UTS with my Bachelors Degree quite a while ago, after 6 years of part-time study. You learn to measure your life in minutes.

Over the last two decades I’ve occasionally returned as a guest lecturer, or to run a one day event for the Business Studies School. Curiously I had no idea there was a UTS Alumni, because nobody had ever contacted me about it.

All this all changed recently, when I was appoached by the Alumni team and submitted my details. I forgot they would have to verify them. So for a couple of days, some poor sod had to dust off old hand-written ledgers in the bowels of the archive rooms, to verify I had graduated.

He graduated when??

He graduated when??

Last Friday I received an email to clarify I was Alumni material and welcoming me to the clan. While reading the email I reached the third paragraph below:

If you would like to purchase a commemorative Certificate of Recognition, please go to https://www.alumni.uts.edu.au/origins-certificate to order and pay $20,000, which covers the cost of printing and postage. Please allow up to four weeks to receive your certificate in the mail.” (Bold is my emphasis)

Immediately I thought the email was sp*m. Had someone, somehow tracked my recent messages and was having me on? Or maybe I’m just not as wealthy as the rest of the Alumni? Did their degrees serve them far better financially than mine? Or have they mistaken me for some other Malcolm Auld who has more money than sense?

I mean I enjoyed my time there, but it was many years ago and certainly wasn’t worthy of a $20,000 Commemorative Certificate. I don’t even know where my degree is – probably stored in a box somewhere.

So, I nervously clicked the link to the order form:

UTS certificate

Immediately I checked the price and discovered a typographical error. The Commemorative Certificates are only $20.00. What a relief. Or is that what they want me to feel, so I’ll buy more than one and hand them out to family, friends and employers?

How does something like this happen in such a centre of knowledge and learning? I believe one of the reasons is that proofreading is a skill that people dismiss because they have spellchecker. Many of us have become intellectually lazy and rely too much on technology to do our thinking for us. Just look at how we accept search results as truth, for example.

But UTS did rectify the mistake. Two hours later while typing this blog post, another email arrived with the subject line: Corrections – Successful Origins Verification. While the message did not advise recipients what was being corrected, the Commemorative Certificate was now priced at a more reasonable $20.

That'll be $20,000 please...

That’ll be $20,000 please…

About a decade ago I was the past-student guest speaker at the UTS graduate ceremony for the top students of the year. It is invitation-only for these high-achieving students and their immediate families. Very different to the mass graduation I experienced. I rang one of my old uni mates to tell him about it. He said, “they always had that special ceremony, you just didn’t qualify”.

I’m off to brush up on a couple textbooks…