Last year, a shocking two-thirds of students and graduates said that higher fees would make buying a fake degree more tempting.
One year after the introduction of higher fees we are running the same survey again to see what this year’s graduates think. Has the hype about higher fees and increased student debt translated into increased temptation to buy fake degree certificates?
If you are a student or graduate, we would appreciate your views. Please contribute using the following link:
We’ll share the results here on the blog as soon as we have them.
Craig warns about the importance of making checks because fake certificates can be of excellent quality and look very convincing. Indeed there have been cases where we’ve had to look and look again to spot the errors when a university has returned a ‘not verified’ response.
This is not always the case. Sometimes the fake ones are so breathtakingly obvious as to be funny. As we bask in the July sunshine, here’s a story to brighten your day.
The applicant has a real degree from a UK university in Business Administration. They apply for a role as a Claims Manager with an overseas branch of a well-known High Street bank. For some inexplicable reason they decide that Law is a better degree, and cut and paste the word ‘Law’ over the words ‘Business Administration’ on their certificate, then photocopy it to cover up the overlay. Unfortunately, they don’t stick it on straight. The words slope off to the right. On top of that, the edges of the overlay are clearly visible on the copy! This case seems particularly bizarre as the applicant had a perfectly legitimate degree.
This has happened before. Paypal boss Scott Thompson was famously exposed for claiming to hold a degree in Computer Science, when he became the new CEO of Yahoo, despite the fact that he had a perfectly legimitate degree in Accounting, and a proven track record. Needless to say, it cost him his job, and his reputation.
We’ve just updated our series of tips on How to Spot a Fake UK Degree.
Based on a recent case we’ve handled, we’ve added the following tip to the list:
In a recent case we handled, an enquiry returned “Not Verified”. The client, as per our normal procedure, sent us the candidate’s award certificate.
The certificate was purported to be offered by “Manchester University”.
However, this is not a valid university title. The correct university title is the “University of Manchester”. This was a dead give-away that the certificate was not awarded from the University of Manchester, nor is it a UK degree.
Always check how the university’s name appears on the certificate with what the official university refers to itself as.
There is a big difference between hiring someone from Manchester University (bogus) and someone from The University of Manchester (real)!
Recently we handled a case of a candidate using a fake degree certificate to apply for postgraduate courses at a number of UK universities.
Thankfully, in all the attempts so far, the postgraduate admissions team have had a policy of verifying degree certificates prior to admitting anyone to their courses and the applicant was stopped.
The worrying thing was the persistence of the candidate in using forged documents in order to apply for multiple postgraduate positions. They were obviously hoping to slip through the net at one of the universities.
Even more worrying is that according to UK law, the candidate would not be committing a fraud in applying to postgraduate programmes using false documentation.
This is because fraud in the UK requires ‘a gain or loss in either money or property’. A place on a postgraduate course would be very unlikely to be interpreted as a gain or loss in either money or property.
That being the case, the only offence which a candidate would commit is perhaps a forgery offence (“using a false instrument”).
Although forgery is a serious offence, its relevance to degree fraud has perhaps not yet been considered.
That the law does not offer a broad range of offences to protect postgraduate admissions teams means simply that running the proper checks is even more imperative when taking on anyone claiming to hold a degree.
Check out our article on “Beating Degree Deception” in July’s edition of University Business.
We’re doing everything we can to spread the word about fraud. This week, The National Centre for Universities and Business have kindly published our piece on the Vicious Circle of Fraud on their blog. Thanks for that.
If you have any comments or questions, then please feel free to leave them below.