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75% of staff cannot detect fake certificate

Only one in four university admissions staff feel confident spotting fake qualification documents without assistance, a survey by the UK’s national qualifications agency UK NARIC has revealed, as the organisation pledges to ramp up efforts to identify fraudulent certificates.

By putting greater focus on verification, institutions may be able to "open up" to applications from "high-risk" countries. Photo: pixabay

Some 14% of institutions said that they "don’t verify overseas qualification documents at all"

Responses from 17 countries showed that institutions spend varying amounts of effort verifying documents.

While 62% said they conduct their own verifications direct with awarding institutions, 14% of institutions said that, in general, they “don’t verify overseas qualification documents at all”.

Other respondents said they verify documents only in cases which raise concern or doubt.

“One of the interesting things in the survey is that it shows a range of approaches to qualification checking in the institutions,” Steve Miller, head of Communications and Global Partnerships for UK NARIC told The PIE News.

“Some institutions reduce the risk by not accepting applications from high-risk countries”

The survey found that some institutions rely on examining hard-copy qualification documents, while others use online verification methods.

“Some admissions teams seem to be confident about checking and verifying qualifications themselves and are building that into their processes. But some staff are maybe not so sure that they can spot a fake certificate with certainty,” Miller continued.

According to UK NARIC, verifying international qualifications and dealing with fake certificates and fraudulent applications is a growing problem the organisation is working to counteract.

“We have an online certificate bank, with thousands of scanned images of certificates and transcripts, that can be used to compare and check applicants’ documents. We also offer training on fraud detection,” Miller added.

Additionally, its Qualification Checked At Source verification service gives a “definitive confirmation that a qualification is genuine”.

UK NARIC is also concerned that verification worries mean that international students from some countries are missing out on study places.

“Some institutions reduce the risk by not accepting applications from high-risk countries. That is one way to reduce the risks of this. But you are limiting your markets if you take that approach,” Miller said.

He said that by putting greater focus on verification, institutions may be able to “open up to applications from those markets, while still controlling and managing the risk”.

“Diversifying your markets is an important factor at the moment. Better approaches to verification can help to support a diversification strategy,” Miller added.

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