In the UK it’s possible to prosecute individuals with fake qualifications under existing fraud and forgery legislation and we can also target bogus universities and fake certificate websites under trademark, copyright and forgery legislation.
We encourage employers and education providers to take legal action when fraud is uncovered, but criminal prosecutions are few and far between.
South Africa is going one step further to stamp out degree fraud with a specific bill before Parliament, proposed by the South African Qualifications Authority (Saqa), Hedd’s equivalent verification hub and international partner.
The bill contains provisions that compel education institutions and employers to report fraudulent or misrepresented qualifications to Saqa, which works closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to pursue cases of alleged fraud.
This follows news from Belgium * that the Higher Education Commission of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation approved a proposal for a decree aimed at fighting the spread of fake universities across the country, which was subsequently adopted by the Government. Institutions will have to state clearly that they do not offer legally-recognised awards. It also imposes fines on institutions for misuse of protected terms such as ‘university’, ‘higher education institution’ and ‘faculty’.
We would welcome such legislation here in the UK and have shared details with colleagues at the Department for Education and the Office for Students to show what can be done.
*Links to a report in English rather than the original report from ‘7 sur 7’ in French.