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Fake degrees easily identified, say universities

UNIVERSITIES say robust systems are in place to help employers identify degrees obtained fraudulently, but some students doubt it will work. Echo Chen reports.

Universities are confident that inbuilt security systems and verification services offered by their institutions will help employers weed out fraudulent degree holders.

The universities were responding to Chinese students’ concerns that businesses selling fake degrees will cost graduates their jobs and devalue their genuine qualifications back home, reported in Meld Magazine last week.

University of Melbourne spokesman David Scott said the university makes use of an inbuilt security system for academic statements, and has strict policies around how the specially-designed stationery used in testamur papers are stored and secured to “minimise the risk of fraudulent use”.

Mr Scott also mentioned the University of Melbourne offers a free online verification service, which allows employers to check the validity of a degree against an applicant’s surname and date of birth.

A Central Queensland University (CQU) spokesman said the university was aware of businesses selling fake degrees from Australian universities including CQU, but had so far not found any breaches of the university’s academic statement system.

“We do have strict processes to protect the integrity of our testamur system from breaches,” the spokesman said.

“We have inbuilt security features in our testamur paper and can easily verify if a testamur has been issued by us.”

He said the inbuilt security features could identify the type of qualification and academic transcript issued to CQU graduates.

However, many forgery businesses claim to offer “watermarks, metal insertion and anti-counterfeit gold stamps” along with their forged testamurs, and guarantee “cheap and quality service”, which could make it hard for Chinese employers to distinguish genuine certificates from counterfeit ones.

Language and geographical barriers may also discourage employers from doing their due diligence.

Evelyn Chen, a student from China studying design in Melbourne, thinks it is impractical to rely on employers to check the qualifications.

“Some employers in China are not able to recognise a fake qualification…they don’t actually check (the authenticity), but there are exceptions,” she said.

She says there needs to be more official standards and procedures in place to tackle degree forgery issues more effectively.

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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