'Degree mills continue to provide fake academic qualifications'

2015-09-08 16:30
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Johannesburg - Recent exposes highlighting qualification fraud have done little to stop "degree mills" which continue to provide fake academic records, says a background screening company.

“For less than R1 000 it is possible to order virtually any degree, from first degrees to PhD qualifications, from dozens of fake degree vendors around the world,"  Kirsten Halcrow, chief executive of Employers' Mutual Protection Service, said in a statement. 

She said 7.62% of qualifications verified by her company this year had turned out to be "problematic". 

Halcrow said the charges of fraud and uttering against former Passenger Rail Agency of SA engineer Daniel Mtimkulu over his alleged fake qualifications and the jailing of former KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge for claiming he had a matric certificate had "opened the floodgates" for employers to take legal action against qualification fraudsters. 

She said government also had little choice but to clamp down on fake academic qualifications.

“Hardly a day goes by without yet another high-ranking government official being exposed for having fake qualifications.

"Until now the State has largely turned a blind eye, in many cases allowing qualification fraudsters to continue in their positions."

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament last week that government wss working on a new policy to deal with the problem of fake qualifications.  

He said Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande was preparing a proposal on various mechanisms to address the problem.

Nzimande has already requested the South African Qualifications Authority to establish a national register that would list the names of individuals who misrepresented their qualifications and who had invalid qualifications.

“It is imperative that employers check the qualifications of all candidates and not just those applying for senior or sensitive positions," Halcrow said.

Other high-profile people who have been embroiled in allegations of fraudulent qualifications include SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, former SABC chair Ellen Tshabalala, former cabinet minister and ANC veteran Pallo Jordan, and SA ambassador to Japan Mohau Pheko. 

Read more on:    education  |  crime

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