Taking on the fakers

New toolkit launches to help protect UK higher education from fraud

UK universities and colleges will benefit from a new ‘Degree Fraud’ toolkit, advising on how they can protect themselves against bogus institutions and degree mills.

Backed by the government, the toolkit has been developed by Prospects’ Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) service in collaboration with universities, professional associations and law enforcement authorities.

It is in response to the government’s call for more action at the Going Global 2015 Conference, as Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister, announced its appointment of Prospects to help reduce the number of unaccredited institutions by increasing prosecutions and awareness raising (1).

The UK is the European capital for bogus universities and misrepresenting academic credentials is rising, but the majority of universities don’t have a formal policy on degree fraud

The launch follows new research that showed 44% of CVs analysed by The Risk Advisory Group contained discrepancies relating to academic background (2). One in ten candidates had falsified their grades. The number of CVs containing an inaccuracy had increased 7%, compared to 2015.

The number of academic credentials verified by Prospects’ HEDD has just passed the 100,000 milestone.

Jayne Rowley, Higher Education Services Director at Prospects said: “The UK is the European capital for bogus universities and misrepresenting academic credentials is rising, but the majority of universities don’t have a formal policy on degree fraud. At best they have ad hoc or discretionary practices.

“There is published information on academic fraud, but not qualification fraud, so this toolkit will fill that gap. Degree fraud is an issue for a number of departments, but not the responsibility of a single area. Marketing, admissions, legal, registry and human resources all have a stake in managing fraud in this area and should be involved in developing and shaping internal policy.”

A similar kit will be available for employers later in the year.

To download the toolkit or for more information visit www.hedd.ac.uk

1 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/international-higher-education

2 Of the 70% of CVs that contained discrepancies, 63% related to academic background – https://news.riskadvisory.net/2016/10/cv-lies-2016/