Sitting here, thinking about it, I don’t actually know where my degree certificate is, that is a cause for concern for a couple of reasons. First: which i am somehow absent-minded enough to be effective towards something to get the best a part of 36 months, only to lose it. And secondly, that I’ve never actually needed it. Every job I’ve had since graduating – which is admittedly only that one and cleaning toilets within a museum – I’ve got without ever having to show anybody the evidence of my qualification.
For this evidence, there is hardly any part of me having studied to begin with. I may as well have just spent a number of quid online and bought myself an imitation degree. Saved myself the amount of money, the tears, the endless bottles of Iceland’s Lambrucini.
Because: people really do this. Lots of everyone is buying Buy diploma online. The web is loaded with them. Data dropped this week via HEDD (Higher Education Degree Datacheck) revealing that more than 30 fake universities have been turn off before 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 catch is getting worse.
But exactly how easy could it be? Should I actually obtain a degree online? How many universities out you can even find real? Why am I wearing a child’s Darth Vader costume within my graduation photo? Did I even go to university?
To reply to some of these questions, I first contacted Jayne Rowley, director of HEDD, to learn more about the bullshit universities around. “Well, it’s been a hidden problem,” says Jayne. “It was only really with creating the HEDD service 4 to 5 yrs ago that there’s been any manner of creating up a national picture of degree fraud.”
HEDD is actually a government-funded operation first set up in 2008, as central verification service for UK degrees – prior to that, if you planned to check somebody’s degree was legit you had to accomplish it from the university themselves, which put a great deal 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 are available in various forms. “You’ve got straightforward bogus operations, where there is no university – they’re just establishing a website to resemble a UK university. Those are actually to dupe innocent potential students into thinking they’re obtaining a UK university, or even to make people think these are studying on a online education course online, when they’re not. Those reel in innocent victims.”
Some “fake students”, however, are lower than innocent. One of the primary problems fake universities present are people buying fraudulent qualifications so that you can deceive employers. “You will find the websites that happen to be purely set up to back-up bogus certificates,” Jayne explains. “A really common thing is for those who have fake certificates to mention, ‘Oh, you should check my certificate about the university website. Then you go the web site – University of Wolverhamton without having the ‘p’ was actually a popular one – enter into the particulars on the certificate, and a message comes back saying, ‘This person is a bonafide graduate.'”
So far as Jayne sees it, it is a real and growing trend. “In March this season, the chance Advisory Group published a written report which screened 500 CVs and located major discrepancies with 70 % of them,” she says, “and of all discrepancies, 28 percent had complications with educational qualifications. People genuinely don’t see lying on the CVs being a criminal offence, but it is.”
This reminded me from the websites that did the rounds as i was at sixth form where you could buy “novelty” ID cards that allow you to squeeze with the doors of nightclubs. Surely acquiring a degree wouldn’t be that simple?
Well yeah, actually. It took me four seconds to land on Instant Degrees, a web site which offers courses ranging from Afrikaans to accounting, and all you need to do is fill in a form. Above is my application for a degree in feminism – a diploma I obtained in the tender age of seven.
Jayne describes Instant Degrees like a website just selling fake certificates and “not actually bothering to pretend they can be a university”. Despite this, they can be very keen to stress how totally legal everything they provide is. In their words: “This can be a valuable free service directed at above averagely intelligent those who understand value of having the ability to instantly convert their existing knowledge into a degree, quickly and legally.” Which is a nice method of taking a look at it. It form of validates your dad’s mate Roger who may be constantly banging on about how degrees are a waste of some time and how he learnt everything they know from “the University of Life”.
Further within 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 heard of 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 is actually relatively simple to debunk the university’s existence. “Google street view is your friend when tracking down bogus institutions,” she tells me. Helping to make sense when you take a look at a street view of Canterbury University’s supposed address.
Jayne has put this technique on the test herself. “We bought some from your guy who has been offering fake certificates for £6.95 with nectar points,” she explains. “They say ‘this is designed for novelty purposes’, but they’re prohibited to publish certificates who have university trademarks about them; they can be still in breach of copyright. So that we bought some, one is in rocket science. The certificates came and they had holograms, signatures, but usefully the eBay seller had sent them in a envelope with a return name and address on the back, and then we handed them up to trading standards. Still got the nectar points though.”
University is seeming as an increasingly unrealistic prospect currently, so it’s no surprise everyone is seeking out alternatives, especially now that the grants system in the united kingdom has also been scrapped. Sadly, however, the world of fake universities is really as treacherous as real ones. You may think you’re signing up for an absolutely legitimate Science of Feminism masters on the University of Bedford, only to discover yourself the most up-to-date victim in long-line played through the most dexkpky32 hustlers from the game. Either that, or you’re a hustler yourself, hoping to blag your path onto a grad-scheme using a make believe degree you bought on eBay. If that’s the way it is, then beware: the heads at HEDD are onto you, fresher.