Sitting here, thinking about it, I don’t actually know where my degree certificate is, and that is a reason for concern for a couple of reasons. First: which i am somehow absent-minded enough to work towards something to get the best part of 36 months, just to lose it. And secondly, that I’ve never actually needed it. Every job I’ve had since graduating – that is admittedly only this and cleaning toilets in a museum – I’ve got without ever needing to show anybody the evidence of my qualification.
About this evidence, there was clearly hardly any part of me having studied in the first place. I might also have just spent a number of quid on the internet and bought myself an imitation degree. Saved myself the cash, the tears, the endless bottles of Iceland’s Lambrucini.
Because: people really do this. Loads of everyone is buying buy university diploma. The web is filled with them. Data dropped this week via HEDD (Higher Education Degree Datacheck) revealing that more than 30 fake universities are already turn off in past times year. With a few posing as actual institutions, others purporting to get online-based open learning programmes, the world wide web has allowed an excessive proliferation of fake unis, and there are concerns the catch is going to get worse.
But how easy is it? Should I actually get yourself a degree on the web? The number of universities out there are also real? Why am I wearing a child’s Darth Vader costume within my graduation photo? Did I even go to university?
To respond to a few of these questions, I first contacted Jayne Rowley, director of HEDD, to learn more about the bullshit universities around. “Well, it’s been a concealed problem,” says Jayne. “It was only really with putting together the HEDD service four to five in the past that there’s been in any manner of building up a national picture of degree fraud.”
HEDD is really a government-funded operation first positioned in 2008, as central verification service for UK degrees – ahead of that, in the event you planned to check somebody’s degree was legit you needed to get it done throughout the university themselves, which put lots of employers off. “Since we went live we’ve done over 160,000 verification checks,” Jayne adds. “Which includes obviously thrown up a number of fake certificates, fake websites and queries about bogus universities.”
Based on Jayne, fake universities can be found in great shape. “You’ve got straightforward bogus operations, where there is not any university – they’re just setting up a website to look like a UK university. Those are actually to dupe innocent potential students into thinking they’re applying for a UK university, or make people think they can be studying on the online education course online, when they’re not. Those reel in innocent victims.”
Some “fake students”, however, are lower than innocent. One of the biggest problems fake universities present are people buying fraudulent qualifications as a way to deceive employers. “You will find the websites which are purely set up to back-up bogus certificates,” Jayne explains. “A very common thing is for people who have fake certificates to mention, ‘Oh, you should check my certificate in the university website. Then you go the site – University of Wolverhamton without the ‘p’ was actually a popular one – enter in the information on the certificate, along with a message returns saying, ‘This individual is a bonafide graduate.'”
With regards to Jayne sees it, this can be a real and growing trend. “In March this coming year, the chance Advisory Group published a study which screened 500 CVs and found major discrepancies with 70 % of these,” she says, “and of the discrepancies, 28 percent had problems with educational qualifications. People genuinely don’t see lying on his or her CVs being a criminal offence, however it is.”
This reminded me in the websites that did the rounds as i was at sixth form where you could buy “novelty” ID cards that let you squeeze throughout the doors of nightclubs. Surely receiving a degree wouldn’t be so easy?
Well yeah, actually. It took me about four seconds to land on Instant Degrees, a web site that offers courses ranging from Afrikaans to accounting, and all you need to do is fill out a form. Above is my application to get a degree in feminism – a qualification I obtained with the tender era of seven.
Jayne describes Instant Degrees like a website just selling fake certificates and “not actually bothering to pretend they can be a university”. Regardless of this, these are very keen to stress how totally legal everything they feature is. Within their words: “It is a valuable free service directed at above averagely intelligent people that understand the need for having the capability to instantly convert their existing knowledge in to a degree, quickly and legally.” And that is a nice means of taking a look at it. It type of validates your dad’s mate Roger who may be constantly banging on about how exactly degrees are a complete waste of some time and how he learnt everything he knows from “the University of Life”.
Further within the bullshit scale is Canterbury University. Their homepage is above. Now, it might seem you’ve heard about Canterbury University. You haven’t; you’ve read about Canterbury Christ Church University. Canterbury University is, Jayne tells me, just about the most blatant offenders still online. It even carries a page where degree holders can go into the code on the back of their certificate as a way to “verify” their degree. But as Jayne indicates, it is easy to debunk the university’s existence. “Google street view can be your friend when tracking down bogus institutions,” she tells me. Making sense whenever you look at a street view of Canterbury University’s supposed address.
Jayne has put this procedure on the test herself. “We bought some coming from a guy who has been offering fake certificates for £6.95 with nectar points,” she explains. “They claim ‘this is perfect for novelty purposes’, but they’re banned to publish certificates which may have university trademarks about them; they are still in breach of copyright. Therefore we bought some, one was in too difficult. The certificates came and they also had holograms, signatures, but usefully the eBay seller had sent them in an envelope having a return name and address about the back, and then we handed them onto trading standards. Still got the nectar points though.”
University is seeming just like an increasingly unrealistic prospect nowadays, so it’s no surprise folks are seeking out alternatives, especially given that the grants system in the united kingdom has been scrapped. Sadly, however, the realm of fake universities is just as treacherous as real ones. It might seem you’re subscribing to an absolutely legitimate Science of Feminism masters on the University of Bedford, only to find yourself the most recent victim in long-line played by the most dexkpky32 hustlers within the game. Either that, or you’re a hustler yourself, hoping to blag your way onto a grad-scheme with a make believe degree you bought on eBay. If that’s the situation, then beware: the heads at HEDD are onto you, fresher.