Half of UK employers have been victims of degree fraud

December, 2019

A Prospects survey has discovered that half of UK employers have fallen foul of degree fraud, yet many do not take steps to safeguard their business

Prospects, which run the Hedd degree verification and fraud service, surveyed employers about how they are tackling degree fraud.

The survey found that 49% of large businesses and 48% of SMEs have encountered a candidate who lied about their degree qualifications, such as falsely claiming a degree or inflating their grade.

While 83% of employers surveyed believed that some of their hires would have lied about their degrees, a fifth did not verify degree qualifications. Some reported that they spoke to tutors or used references instead, while others assumed integrity or valued interview performance over qualifications.

'People fail to realise that lying on their CV can result in them being prosecuted for fraud. Coupled with the multitude of fake universities and degree certificates in circulation, degree fraud is a high-risk business for employers,' says Chris Rea, head of higher education services at Prospects.

'Businesses need to be able to trust their staff, so it's important to ensure integrity right at the very start. Checking a degree with university records is the only way to protect your organisation. It should come hand-in-hand with checking references.'

Prospects' findings feature in the CVs Uncovered 2019 report by Credence Background Screening Limited, which also reported analysis of almost 55,000 CVs and revealed that a quarter contained inconsistencies, of which 15% related to a candidate's academic achievements.

'Our findings emphasise the need for employers to have robust background screening procedures in place to protect their business, brand and reputation,' adds Hedley Clark, managing director of Credence.

 Download the free degree fraud protection toolkit for employers at hedd.ac.uk.

 Prospects Hedd survey

Prospects surveyed 313 UK employers in September 2019. The results feature in CVs Uncovered 2019 by Credence Background Screening Limited.


Media enquiries

  • Clare Tregaskis, press officer, Prospects, 07792 429227, c.tregaskis@prospects.ac.uk

About Prospects

  • Graduate careers expert Prospects has worked at the heart of higher education 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.
  • Graduate labour market research such as What do graduates do?
  • Prospects Luminate, the home of student and graduate labour market information and research.

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.

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