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.
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.