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Diploma mills have been a nuisance for a long time in academia and it poses a large-scale threat. Digitalization appears to have facilitated their activities and widened their potential market. Fraudulent qualifications do not merely create unfairness in the employment market, it can also lead to unqualified individuals putting others at risk. Can the global issue of dubious academic qualifications be tackled?
According to the BBC (Degrees of deception, File on 4, BBC 4), which published an exposé on the topic in 2018 focusing on the fake diplomas scam ran by a Pakistani company, hundreds of thousands of fake degrees have been sold worldwide, generating multi-millions of dollars. Behind this global issue lies a complex network of online universities who sell bogus degrees, doctorates and professional qualifications. Some of the buyers have gone on to trade on these credentials, including them on their CVs and getting jobs. Others, after making an initial purchase, were blackmailed by the sellers, who threatened to expose them unless they paid out enormous additional fees.
Diploma fraud is a global and borderless threat with heavy consequences for the issuers, holders and verifiers of academic certificates. Issuing, re-issuing and verification are still a complicated and labor-intensive processes. Academic institutions worldwide are under increasing pressure to safeguard their brands and the authenticity of alumni credentials. Amid the growth of degree fraud, the need for trusted verifications measures has never been greater.
Bogus academic documents can be either fake degrees from renowned universities or dubious qualifications from non-existing universities. In our ever-evolving digital world, trust for value documents is of the essence and CERTUSTM can help. This digital solution enables document issuers, namely educational institutions, to secure documents such as academic records. It helps them to protect brand value and instill confidence among the graduate community and employers. The solution combines breakthrough digital security seal, protected by blockchain technology, with a secure QR-Code applied to documents. It protects the reputation of legitimate issuing authorities, strengthens trusted relationships with verifiers and offers peace of mind to document holders. In sum, CERTUS offers a new standard in securing value documents globally.
Almost a quarter of the Mexican population holds a university degree and there are currently nearly four million students enrolled in higher education. Each year, hundreds of thousands of students graduate and receive their diploma. Diploma fraud has always been a significant issue in Mexico, where dubious academic documents could be easily purchased at Plaza de Santo Domingo in Mexico City. With the COVID-19 pandemic, document forgery has become easier than ever, since it can now be purchased online.
Mexican universities take this issue seriously and have decided to tackle this problem head on by implementing CERTUS.
Since 2020, several Mexican universities - Universidad del Valle de Mexico, Panamerican University, Iberoamerican University, TecMilenio University - have implemented the solution CERTUS to transform the way degree certificates are issued, secured and shared. With CERTUS the circle of trust for academic certificates is ensured from issuance to verification to use, at no additional cost to the recipients and with the guarantee it will hold true for a lifetime.
Despite the pandemic outbreak in March, which forced all universities to suspend their activities, securing academic degrees remained a priority. The solution was launched in October of the same year and is being rolled out in Mexico by printing company GRAFFER in partnership with SICPA, proposing best-in-class services for both physical and digital worlds. Universidad del Valle de Mexico adds, “Finally, a technology that solves the falsification problems for both digital and paper versions of the documents of our institution.” More than 4000 university degrees have been secured with CERTUS so far.
Founded in Lausanne in 1927, SICPA provides secured authentication, identification and traceability solutions and services, integrating material-based covert features and digital technologies. At the forefront of research and innovation, operating on five continents, SICPA inks and special features protect the majority of the world’s banknotes, security and value documents. Every day, governments, companies and millions of people rely on us to protect the integrity and value of their currency, personal identity, products and brands.