Seventy-five websites fraudulently offering UK degrees have been closed since Prospects was appointed by the government to investigate fake universities in 2015
More than 200 potential cases of degree fraud have been investigated by Prospects in the last four years.
There are 170 recognised institutions with degree awarding powers in the UK. The list of bogus institutions listed on Prospects Hedd has now reached 243.
Prospects works with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and other law enforcement agencies to force closure of operators offering fake degree certificates or misusing the word 'university' which is a protected term under the 2006 Companies Act.
Prospects is made aware of potential degree fraud through its Hedd (Higher Education Degree Datacheck) service, which has verified nearly half a million degrees since 2011, and via the degree fraud reporting service which Prospects runs on behalf of the Department for Education.
Jayne Rowley, chief executive at Prospects said: 'Among the suspicious employers and fake certificates we hear from genuine universities who spot fakes using their branding to attract students, collect personal information and course fees.
'This is damaging the reputation of our higher education system, but it is a global issue. The majority of websites are based outside the UK and therefore we need to collaborate more internationally. We need to focus more on prevention. If every employer properly checked the degree qualifications of every candidate there wouldn’t be a market for this type of fraud.'
How to tackle degree fraud
- Check whether a university or college is an official degree awarding body by using the look-up service on hedd.ac.uk
- Employers, universities and colleges can download free toolkits to help them deal with degree fraud at hedd.ac.uk
- Check original degree certificates with the issuing university or via hedd.ac.uk
- Degree fraud can be reported to the HEDD fraud team on 0845 077 1968
- Clare Tregaskis: Prospects, 07792 429227, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Prospects Hedd
- Managed by Prospects, Hedd was launched in 2011 as an efficiency initiative within the remit of the Universities Modernisation Fund. It provides a degree verification service for job applications or entry onto postgraduate courses. It seeks to protect UK graduates, universities and employers from degree fraud. Hedd covers more than 100 universities in the UK and is able to verify more than 80% of graduates of UK universities.
- In 2015 the Department for Education commissioned Prospects to target bogus institutions and perpetrators of degree fraud as part of its Hedd service. Hedd is reducing the number of fake institutions through investigation and awareness-raising. The project also aims to combat degree fraud by individuals by getting employers and universities to make more verification checks when recruiting students and graduates.
- Prospects signed an agreement with the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange to be the official partner for validating the UK degrees of graduates entering or returning to China to work. This is the UK's first official international collaboration to help prevent degree fraud.
- HEDD has produced free toolkits for education providers and employers, explaining how to institute robust policies to prevent and combat fraud.
- Follow us @hedd_UK
Prospects has worked at the heart of the higher education sector for almost 50 years and is the only careers organisation to invest its profits back into education through its parent charity, the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU). Prospects HECSU is the Universities UK agency responsible for student and graduate employability.
Prospects' mission is to provide all students with expert careers information, advice and opportunities leading to a bright future. Activities include:
- Prospects.ac.uk, visited by more than two million students and graduates a month for careers advice, jobs, courses, internships and unique tools such as Career Planner and Job Match.
- Prospects Hedd, UK higher education's official degree verification and university authentication service.
- Prospects manages the government-supported Graduate Talent Pool, an online service that matches employers with graduate interns.
- Graduate labour market research such as What do graduates do?
- Prospects Luminate, the home of student and graduate labour market information and research.