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What are the Weaknesses of an Education Verification?

We have been asked many times whether the Education Verification process can be incomplete and slow? There are Some schools that have policies prohibiting anyone other than the former student from accessing records like Name variations, incorrect or missing student numbers, etc., which can occasionally cause educational records to be overlooked. GPA and honors information is not commonly provided by schools. Sometimes weeks or even months pass before degrees that have been earned are posted to a student’s records. It is also not uncommon for schools to close for extended periods of time (during the holidays or between terms), forcing the verification process to wait.

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  1. Eyal Ben Cohen 27 Jul

    You are of course correct in pointing out these weaknesses in the process of verifying education qualifications. However, the big elephant in the room when it comes to education verification is the ability to know if the school itself is genuine.

    It is almost pointless, I would argue, to attempt to verify if Joe Bloggs has the degree he claims unless we first know that the school itself is genuine (i.e. recognised as such with a legal power to award degrees). If the school is not recognised, any information they would give us is meaningless and missleading.

    If our Joe claimed to have a degree from an unrecognised institution (often also called diploma mill) the “school” in most of these cases would be keen to confirm they have indeed issued the degree to Joe. Armed with this answer from the school, the verification report would look quite positive when in fact, had we knew the school is unrecognised, there was not even a need to contact them and verify it.
  2. Ramesh Ganeshan 27 Jul

    We have a list of fake institutions as prescribed by the governing/accreditation body the UGC, in India. These institutions offer courses that are not recognized by the UGC to unsuspecting (as well as several rich, not-bothered-to-suspect) students. Several of these fake institutions offer courses to candidates who either cannot get into the mainstream universities due to lower marks in their qualifying exams, or for under-privileged students who did not have the necessary resources to get admitted to a 'better' college, making it possible for them to get a degree rather easily in these. Many of these fake institutions run full-fledged classes for the actual duration of the courses, where students attend lectures and write exams at the appropriate time schedules.

    Having been in this field for some time now, I have had several clients asking me about what's to be done next, since they were convinced that the candidate was genuine and qualified enough, but unfortunately had completed an unrecognized degree.

    Every more than once, we realise that the school from which a candidate has graduated from is either unaccredited or is a 'genuine' Diploma Mill (pardon the pun). We also get positive verifications (in a trice, for most of these cases...it seems the authorities at such institutions are really eager to verify qualifications of their alumni) from these institutions, which is included in our reports along with the fact that the institution is a fake one. We have adopted this strategy to enlighten our clients with the complete truth, as well as to give the employee a fair chance to plead his/her case in case they have genuinely passed out of such instututions.

    Ultimately, it is the client who needs to take a call on whether they would like to see the 'defaulter' go, or retain the talent since the candidate measures up to the requisites of the function.

    Digressing from the main topic, my fear (& please do not call me paranoid :-)) is of being operated someday, by an underqualified doctor, who was admitted into the medical field without proper pre-qualfications since he/she had the buying power to get their seat into a medical college whether genuine or a fake one. Another fear is that of being atop a falling flyover/expressway constructed by an unqualified team of engineers who had not background checked earlier by their employers.

    In reality, no one would like to be in either of these situations, but with the ever-increasing demand for 'qualified' people and non-failsafe screening methods worldwide, knowing that one is always safe (in such situations) is fast becoming a myth.
  3. Bo Sepehr 27 Jul

    Thank you Ayal and Ramesh for your comments.

    I have to say that I agree with you all the way. Degree mills have been around for hundreds of years and they are nothing new! Basically Education Verification has two parts. One, is the verifying agency part, and two, is the Clients part.

    On our part, Diploma Mills are always an area of concern when verifying education for our valued clients and it's a routine procedure of education verification at Hiresafe. When we come accross a suspitious case, we always look behind the curtain. In other words, flip past the flashy graphics on the fancy website for the name of the school’s accreditation agency. Then, take the time to verify that the agency is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education. On the clients part, like Ramesh stated:

    "Ultimately, it is the client who needs to take a call on whether they would like to see the 'defaulter' go, or retain the talent since the candidate measures up to the requisites of the function".

    As a courtesy to our clients and students we even have a full page dedicated to diploma mills: http://www.hiresafe.com/diploma-mill.aspx.
  4. Ayal Ben Cohen 27 Jul

    Informative page on diploma mills you have there Bo. For more info take a look at the reports published here: http://www.accredibase.com
  5. Bo Sepehr 27 Jul

    Very impressive Eyal. You are in my database now :)
  6. Grace Haden 27 Jul

    there is also the concept that there are an awful lot of people with the same names, many degrees and transcripts don't have dates of birth, therefore is you find some one with the same generic degree you can easily claim it as your own.

    We have too much emphasis on a bit of paper it should be for the person accepting to qualification to ensure that the applicant has the abilities that they claim to have, in some cases a person who does not have a degree ( and misses out on a position because of this ) may well be better qualified.
  7. Gordon Basichis 27 Jul

    Ramesh, upon reading your very funny digression, I could only think of one falling off the expressway ramp and then being operated on by a doctor from a diploma mill or some other questionable institution. One would then have to contemplate karma to its fullest extent.

    On the main note, we have noticed an increasing amount of degrees from diploma mills or, to be polite, unaccredited institutions. One hundred bucks and life experience, does not on this temporal plane make for a degree. We have also noticed claims that the candidate has graduated from an accredited college or university. Of course these situations can get quite involved as the candidate or empathetic employer or HR manager become insistent, but the university says "nope, didn't graduate from here."

    As the last ditch procedure we request that the candidate provide a copy of transcripts or a copy of his diploma. Which is why in some cases the universe in its unfailing wisdom created Photo Shop. Some lovely copies. In one case the candidate provided a diploma showing that he graduated in 1987. Fair enough. But unfortunately, the university president, who was listed on the diploma, didn't become the university president until...1996. Ooops.

    So, obviously, the candidate borrowed another's actual diploma, modified it with Photo Shop and inserted his own name. In short, he didn't do his homework and placed himself a graduate a full nine years before that university president took office. And so it goes. Although, decoration tip here, we are aligning our spanking new, lemon scented wall of shame with bogus diplomas. Martha Stewart would be proud.
  8. Tricia Havis 27 Jul

    We at Associated Services Employment Check also do many education verifications, and we also find that people have either lied on their applications, created phony degrees or transcripts, or purchased their documents from a diploma mill or even one time-- the person had purchased their fake degree and transcript from eBay! (we found the exact degree that had been provided on their web site for sale and so were able to send a link to our client with that information).

    We train our staff to always be wary of schools that you cannot call by phone for verification as a big red flag - many of the diploma mills will just have an email address for verification. Our staff also all have links to the US Department of Education accreditation web sites and the Council for Higher Education accreditation web sites as they both have lists of valid and invalid schools and accreditation agencies. Here in Texas, the Texas Education Agency also has a list online of colleges that they do NOT recognize and will not accept as credentials. There are many sources, but these diploma mills are getting more and more "crafty".

    Also, it's no longer just colleges. We have also found diploma mills that are issuing phony High School diplomas as well. Same kind of thing - you send them your resume and your money and they will give you a diploma, a transcript, and in one case that I tested out, they let you say what year you wanted to show on the diploma for your graduation date! It's crazy.
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