Students warned of fraud risk from graduation selfies

June, 2019

As the graduation period gets underway, Prospects warns students of the risks of sharing selfies holding their degree certificates

Graduates taking photos with their degree certificates and sharing them on social media provides an opportunity for counterfeiters to copy the latest university logos, crests, signatories, stamps, holograms and wording.

Graduate careers expert Prospects manages the Hedd Degree Fraud Service on behalf of the Department for Education and is advising graduates to cover up any identifying details on their degree certificates before taking photos to stop the creation of forgeries.

Prospects has launched a toolkit to support students who may be worried about degree fraud, which is a multimillion pound industry spanning fake universities, forged degree certificates, essay mills and CV lies. The student degree fraud toolkit explains how degree fraud can affect genuine students from freshers’ week to their first jobs, damaging career prospects, the integrity of qualifications and devaluing their investment.

Chris Rea, manager of Prospects Hedd, said: 'Graduation day is one of the proudest events in any student’s life and naturally, they’ll want to document it and show-off their degree on social media. Unfortunately this is a counterfeiter’s paradise. Sophisticated, high-pixel cameras mean that every detail of your degree certificate will be visible. Fraudsters need only to look through graduation hashtags to find hundreds of reference points.

'Fake certificates are commonly sold online for a few pounds and can be passed off as genuine to unwitting employers. Checking degree qualifications with the awarding university or Hedd service is the only way to determine if a candidate has the credentials they claim. It’s in everyone’s interest to verify. It means that employers are protected against dishonest candidates, universities protect their reputation and genuine students can be assured that they are competing for jobs on a level playing field.'

The student toolkit as well as versions for higher education providers and employers are available to download at

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About Prospects

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:

  •, 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.

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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