Out of the Mouths of Babes

I recently interviewed some students whilst filming for a BBC Documentary on degree fraud. Yes, we’re going to be on TV – more about that later.

Their views were fascinating and encouraging. They also had a take on things which I hadn’t considered.

The most common questions we get asked on HEDD are about data protection and student consent, when universities are joining. I hope the points below convince them that their students are more than happy to be part of HEDD.

The Student Perspective:

Unaware that their degree qualifications are not checked with their universities by 80% of major graduate employers. For ME’s and SME’s the figure is undoubtedly much higher. They were shocked by this, frankly. They had no idea employers would rely on paper credentials without verifying with the issuing university.

Unaware of the levels or types of degree fraud – as you might expect – no-one is.

Appalled at bogus universities, fake certificates, grade inflation claims. 

View it as the university’s responsibility to do something. They felt the universities had a duty of care to ensure their interests are protected.

Completely comfortable with having their student record data in a central database available for checking.  They were proud of their study and achievements and had no objections even to the extent of publishing them.

Came up with the concept of HEDD unprompted – ‘there should be a central database where you can check everyone’ – I was happy to fill them in on what we’re doing.

Want the Government to make it mandatory – ‘the Government should make universities do it’.

Frustrated that their pre-university qualifications were rigorously checked by UCAS with software checks on their personal statements and academic submissions to prevent cheating; but that no such rigour applies to their job applications and employment. I’d never considered this at all, but they are right.

Related this point to their financial investment in HE and expectations of how that is protected. This week’s figures showing the levels of expected debt with the high fees make this point really hit home.

We’ll be passing on these comments to colleagues in universities and to employers. I’m happy to let the students make the case for us.

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Published by

Jayne Rowley

Jayne is Chief Executive at Graduate Prospects and Hedd

One thought on “Out of the Mouths of Babes”

  1. I find it amazing that the results came up with

    “Completely comfortable with having their student record data in a central database available for checking. They were proud of their study and achievements and had no objections even to the extent of publishing them”

    yet if you ask anyone their results in person they are very cagey even if they did well. Additionally between 2013/2014 over 120,00 students left university with a 2:2 or lower; compared to 280,000 who received a 2:1 or higher.

    This is a significant portion of students who would feel less comfortable being probed about their award and probably less likely to agree with the above statement re being proud; especially when they are labelled as the dossers and drinkers of studenthood.

    Where I agree a level of transparency is necessary for the employer, it should always be up to the employee to determine what type of reference they provide: because that is all this is, a reference. No different to confirming that you really did work at your previous employers place. Why do we need such a massive database when an employer could contact the university directly (like it seems most you have to anyway) and the student can clarify on their personal records they are ok with their data being discussed. I think I would be pretty pissed if my Uni gave any independent third party company rights to my information and I am glad to see they are not on your list.

    Also, if an employer really struggles to work out the integrity and honesty of a person when interviewing them then I suggest interview skill training; ask the right questions in the right way and it’s easy to determine how skillful someone may be. Also, you know do some research, google is quite helpful at telling you what a person should know if they did a certain degree or whether where they say its from is truly from there. Human resources definitely have time to do a quick background check themselves on the data from a CV. This database encourages hiring people on the merit of a higher degree award who may not even remember anything or just does well in exams; lazy interviewing.

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