Australian universities to crack down on inflated or fake qualifications

A NEW system is being developed to help Australian universities and employers both local and overseas to easily identify fraud and counterfeit qualifications from applicants. Zoe Law reports. 

university qualifications

In a bid to stamp out credential fraud, Australian universities are planning to build a system to help institutions and employers easily identify applicants using fraudulent and fake qualifications.

The Digital Student Data (DSD) system is a nationwide secure digital database, which will hold all the digital academic records of students studying in Australia.

The system is expected to link with similar systems in New Zealand, China, the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa and a few European countries, allowing institutions from participating countries to exchange data simply and efficiently.

Australian universities can tap into this global student data system to check the academic records of prospective international students who have already completed an overseas degree.

Related stories: Students fear Chinese businesses selling fake degrees will devalue genuine qualifications from Australia

Speaking to the Australian Financial Review (AFR), University of Melbourne registrar Neil Robinson, who chairs the DSD project’s reference group, said there was “significant underreporting” of credential fraud.

“I believe we only catch the tip of the iceberg,” Robinson told the AFR.

The DSD system is hoped to vastly reduce the opportunities for fraud and counterfeit qualifications, and enhance digital student record portability in job and study applications.

Privacy concerns

In an earlier interview with the AFR, Robinson said the DSD system would protect privacy, with employers and universities only able to check academic achievement claims with the permission of students or graduates.

While international students I’ve spoken to have expressed concerns about issues around privacy, they also see the benefits a system like DSD can bring.

Athena Lam, an international undergraduate student who intends to pursue a master degree in Australia, said “it would be a great improvement to the current system.”

[The new system] saves time, money, and hassles for students to request a transcript from home universities and present it to the employers or another universities,” Lam said.

The DSD system is expected to be implemented by the end of 2017.

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