Do Not Pass. Do Not Collect Your Degree Certificate.

go to jail

It’s time for our annual survey of student and graduate attitudes and experiences of degree fraud. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey here. Tell us what you think about fraud and those who cheat their way into employment.

Degree fraud went way beyond cutting and pasting fake certificates this week with the jailing of a University of Birmingham student who hacked in to the university’s student record system and upped his grades on 5 pieces of coursework from a 2:2 to a 1st.

Imran Uddin is starting a four month sentence in prison, but a life sentence as far as his future career and integrity are concerned. What university would accept him after this? What employer?

He cites pressure to get a good degree as his reason for doing it – he is the first person in his family to attend university.

A criminal conviction is surely far worse to live with than a 2:2?

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You’re Fired!

You're Fired

We’re not the only ones checking up on job applicants. Samsung recently surveyed 2,000 working British adults on their current roles and their career plans for 2015, and came up with a list of the ten most common lies found on CVs in the UK.

Former Apprentice mentor Nick Hewer, who is an ambassador for Samsung says: “I am not surprised that so many people admit to lying on the CVs – we see the same thing on The Apprentice year in, year out – however it is worth noting that we nearly always find the lies!

I have to say it astounds me that candidates lie in that situation. Surely they must know someone will go digging around? The media surely will, even if the producers don’t. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging words from Nick.

So what makes their top ten? No surprises on the number one slot, although I don’t fancy the chances of Apprentice contestants getting away with number nine.

Top Ten Lies on CVs

1. Exaggerated education grades (31%)

2. Beefing up day-to-day responsibilities (26%)

3. Job title (22%)

4. Personal achievements and rewards (22%)

5. Having a sporty hobby to appear outgoing and ‘rounded’ e.g. sky diving, off road racing (19%)

6. Companies you have worked for (17%)

7. References (using friends who were colleagues and not your manager) (15%)

8. Speaking a language (14%)

9. Covering up being fired from a previous position (10%)

10. Using industry jargon to impress – using industry terms/phrases without fully knowing what they mean (9%)

International Rescue

The biggest frustration with bogus universities is not being able to take any action. If they are based here in the UK, our legislation allows us to shut them down and prosecute if appropriate, working with Trading Standards and  sometimes the police. It’s much harder to deal with websites registered overseas, even when they purport to represent UK universities. This was highlighted by a BBC Radio Kent investigation last Autumn which prompted action from Canterbury MP Julian Brazier. They discovered sites selling fake degree certificates from dozens of UK universities based out in the Far East. Here at HEDD we have also been monitoring this and may have found a solution. The websites sell fake certificates from universities around the world, including from China. Are local laws being broken? Could something be done in-country? HEDD is part of a global network of public bodies verifying degree credentials including China. We welcomed colleagues from the Chinese Ministry of Education here at HEDD in December to strengthen our relationship. We contacted them about the fake certificate sites to ask whether this would be covered by Chinese legislation. I’m delighted to report that this is in fact the case and the information we collected has been passed on by them to the relevant Chinese security department. They take degree fraud very seriously and have successfully shut down bogus universities and sites offering fake certificates in the past. After liaising with colleagues over at BBC Kent we will be passing on their evidence to deal with the site they exposed.  We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE 19th June 2015.

The Chinese site has been shut down. We’ll wait to see if they prosecute the offenders.

Chinese site selling fake certificates

Next month I’ll be meeting colleagues from the global network for our annual conference. I’ll be proposing to formalise arrangements through them with enforcement agencies around the world to tackle these websites wherever they spring up.