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.