Sitting here, thinking about it, I don’t actually know where my degree certificate is, which is actually a cause of concern for two reasons. First: that I am somehow absent-minded enough to operate towards something to find the best a part of 3 years, only 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 the museum – I’ve got without ever being forced to show anybody the proof of my qualification.
With this evidence, there was clearly hardly any part of me having studied to start with. I might also have just spent a number of quid on the web and bought myself an imitation degree. Saved myself the money, the tears, the endless bottles of Iceland’s Lambrucini.
Because: people do this. Lots of individuals are buying Buy diploma online. The world wide web is full of them. Data dropped this week via HEDD (Higher Education Degree Datacheck) revealing that more than 30 fake universities happen to be turn off in the past year. With a bit of posing as actual institutions, others purporting being online-based open learning programmes, the web has allowed an excessive proliferation of fake unis, where there are concerns the issue is getting worse.
So how easy could it be? Can One actually obtain a degree on the net? Just how many universities out you will even find real? Why am I wearing a child’s Darth Vader costume within my graduation photo? Did I even visit university?
To reply to a few of these questions, I first contacted Jayne Rowley, director of HEDD, to find out more concerning the bullshit universities available. “Well, it’s been a concealed problem,” says Jayne. “It had been only really with putting together the HEDD service 4 to 5 years back that there’s been any way of creating up a national picture of degree fraud.”
HEDD is a government-funded operation first positioned in 2008, as central verification service for UK degrees – before that, in the event you desired to check somebody’s degree was legit you needed to make it happen with the university themselves, which put plenty of employers off. “Since we went live we’ve done over 160,000 verification checks,” Jayne adds. “Which contains obviously thrown up a number of fake certificates, fake websites and queries about bogus universities.”
As outlined by Jayne, fake universities come in various forms. “You’ve got straightforward bogus operations, where there is absolutely no university – they’re just generating a website to look like a UK university. Those really are to dupe innocent potential students into thinking they’re trying to get a UK university, or to make people think they are 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. “There are the websites that happen to be purely set up to back-up bogus certificates,” Jayne explains. “A very common thing is for people who have fake certificates to state, ‘Oh, you can examine my certificate on the university website. You then go the web site – University of Wolverhamton with no ‘p’ was really a popular one – enter into the particulars on the certificate, as well as a message returns saying, ‘This individual is a bonafide graduate.'”
In terms of Jayne sees it, this can be a real and growing trend. “In March this season, the danger Advisory Group published a study which screened 500 CVs and found major discrepancies with 70 percent of them,” she says, “and of all of the discrepancies, 28 percent had difficulties with educational qualifications. People genuinely don’t see lying on the CVs as a criminal offence, yet it is.”
This reminded me in the websites that did the rounds when I was at sixth form where you could buy “novelty” ID cards that allow you to squeeze with the doors of nightclubs. Surely getting a degree wouldn’t be that simple?
Well yeah, actually. It took me about four seconds to land on Instant Degrees, a website that offers courses which range from Afrikaans to accounting, and all you need to do is fill a form. Above is my application for a degree in feminism – a college degree I obtained in the tender age of seven.
Jayne describes Instant Degrees as a website just selling fake certificates and “not even bothering to pretend these are a university”. Regardless of this, they can be very keen to stress how totally legal everything they feature is. Inside their words: “This really is a valuable free service directed at above averagely intelligent people that understand the value of having the ability to instantly convert their existing knowledge in to a degree, quickly and legally.” Which is a nice way of looking at it. It sort of validates your dad’s mate Roger who may be constantly banging on about how precisely degrees are a complete waste of efforts and how he learnt everything he knows from “the University of Life”.
Further the bullshit scale is Canterbury University. Their homepage is above. Now, it might seem you’ve heard of Canterbury University. You haven’t; you’ve read about Canterbury Christ Church University. Canterbury University is, Jayne tells me, probably the most blatant offenders still online. It even has a page where degree holders can enter the code on the rear of their certificate so that you can “verify” their degree. But as Jayne points out, it can be not too difficult to debunk the university’s existence. “Google street view will be your friend when tracking down bogus institutions,” she tells me. That makes sense once you take a look at a street take a look at Canterbury University’s supposed address.
Jayne has put this technique to the test herself. “We bought some from a guy who was offering fake certificates for £6.95 with nectar points,” she explains. “They claim ‘this is for novelty purposes’, but they’re prohibited to publish certificates who have university trademarks to them; they can be still in breach of copyright. So that we bought some, one is in too tricky. The certificates came and they also had holograms, signatures, but usefully the eBay seller had sent them inside an envelope using a return name and address about the back, therefore we handed them over to trading standards. Still got the nectar points though.”
University is seeming just like an increasingly unrealistic prospect today, so it’s no wonder folks are looking for alternatives, especially now that the grants system in the united kingdom has been scrapped. Sadly, however, the realm of fake universities is as treacherous as real ones. It might seem you’re registering for an absolutely legitimate Science of Feminism masters at the University of Bedford, only to find yourself the latest victim in long-line played with the most dexkpky32 hustlers inside the game. Either that, or you’re a hustler yourself, looking to blag the right path onto a grad-scheme by using a make believe degree you bought on eBay. If that’s the case, then beware: the heads at HEDD are onto you, fresher.