On May 17th the New York Times did an investigative series on the bogus degree practices by a Pakistan corporation called Axact Fake Diplomas, Real Cash: Pakistani Company Axact Reaps Millions which brought to light how big this business really is and how many online universities are a sham. Axact has been sued numerous times in the United States as early as 2007 and in one case in 2009 found guilty in a class action suit on behalf of 30,000 people and was ordered to pay over $22 million, which has never been paid.

I decided to conduct a search on my LinkedIn account to look at schools the New York Times reported as being bogus universities. The search found over 3,000 people with bogus degrees living in the GCC. Here are five examples of people who state on LinkedIn that they have a degree from the bogus schools and what they do for a living:

  • Saudi Arabia: General Manager at Healthcare Services Company
  • UAE: Principal at International Private School Abu Dhabi
  • Qatar: Head of Project Controls a Qatar Gas Company
  • Kuwait: Safety Site Superintendent
  • Bahrain: Deputy General Manager of a Islamic Bank

Others, beside the Times, have written on Axact in the past few days including Pakistan Today in an article called Axact wasn’t just selling fake degrees! In their open paragraph they write:

 Apart from the alleged sale of fake diplomas and degrees through its online universities and colleges, Karachi-based IT company Axact has also been offering its services as “proxy students”, filling in for all the academic work originally assigned to students enrolled in reputed educational institutions in US, Pakistan Today has learnt.

In January 2015 Edu Alliance began working with a number of media publications to make the public aware of bogus online universities. We were successful with stories appearing in The National Al Fanar, and the UAE Ministry of Interior 999 monthly Magazine “ A Degree of Illegitimacy”.

What Edu Alliance has been stating since it began working with the media to help expose groups like Axact, is how damaging these bogus institutions are to the education and business community. Not only are groups such as these making millions selling fake high school and university diplomas and credentials but corporations are hiring or promoting people without proper qualifications. Students are turning to these bogus groups to write their term papers and thesis for a hefty price.

The reaction from people I talk to in education and government about fake universities is outrage but very few are taking pro-active steps to shut these groups down. It is encouraging to see the Pakistan government has begun an investigation of Axact and promises a quick resolution, but it took the New York Times to get the attention and quick action of the government.

How significant of a problem is it? The New York Times determined hundreds of online universities are likely to be linked to Axact’s operation “Tracking Axact’s Websites“.

I decided to look further into the list of universities to determine how many people have a degree from one or more of these schools. I went into my LinkedIn account and began a search of each university which generated a list of individuals who self report being a graduate of one of the bogus school. I restricted my search to the GCC countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman) and below are the results of 74 universities on the New York Times list:

School Date V2

I took this a bit further by searching the LinkedIn profile of Nixon University. The information below shows you companies that Nixon alumni work for. The data shows where alums work, area of responsibility, and country they reside.

LinkedIn Data Nixon U

What additionally disturbed me was Axact offering multiple education “services” such as high school diplomas, university degrees and ghostwriting services for papers and exams.

What does this all mean? The good news is one group Axact has been caught, but the bad news there are many others doing the same thing. In the article I participated in with Al Fanar, the reporter identified one such group as Must University. I suspect MUST is just one university held by a single corporation, which controls multiple university websites and degrees.

The bogus degree industry has been in business for decades but with the ability to advertise on the Internet and social media such as Facebook they have taken the business to the next dangerous level. Many adults who want a degree because they must have one to get a job or get a promotion seem to be the easy target and will pay the money assuming employers do not check the validity of the degree.

During the last few years several media organizations have investigated these schools. In the UAE; Gulf News, The National and The Khaleej Times reporters have produced important stories. In the international media Al Fanar did a series of stories, which received wide recognition in the education community, as has The Chronicle of Higher Education. Yet little had changed until the world’s most recognized newspaper The New York Times did their series.

The New York Times by exposing Axact embarrassed the Pakistan government and they took action against a very rich and powerful man who also is in the media business. The New York Times has shown the way, now we need to focus our efforts in other regions such as the GCC. The leaders of these nations are spending billions of dollars to improve the quality of education and want their nations to be educational leaders. They have built outstanding new universities. To protect the reputation of accredited institutions and to secure jobs for students working hard to achieve a legitimate degree, I suggest it is time to do the following:

  • Increase public awareness by additional media attention
  • Set up a hotline (telephone and website) to check on a school or to report suspicious schools
  • Prosecute bogus schools.
  • Pressure social media companies such as Google, Facebook and LinkedIn to ban advertising from fake universities

It will take a joint effort of government, employers, accreditation agencies and advertising venues such as Facebook and even LinkedIn to expose and eliminate these predators.

One last suggestion: Now is the time for GCC education agencies to encourage local universities to offer online degrees. For many years’ American, Canadian and European universities have offered such degrees and the courses and programs must meet the same standards as a classroom program. By making it possible to get local quality degree programs will help eliminate some of the bogus universities.


  1. Well done, We all sick and tired of fake Ph.Ds.
    Let me know if you need any help.
    Jasir ( with real Ph.D from the great UConn university. —-) )


  2. 1. Not only axact sell faked Ph Ds but many blue chip universities in the US and Europe do the same. Go on the net and you will see.
    2. Why you only show faked phds in the Arabian Gulf countries, what about the rest of world !


    1. The reason the arab region interest me is because I live and work in the UAE and am involved with many of the higher education institutions here. I would agree some universities in the US are diploma mills as well but in my opinion not regionally accredited institutions. Some are better than others but all regionaly accredited schools have met a academic standard. You maybe interested the one I was involved investigating and help to expose with Al Fanar was Must University in the US. Thanks for yor comments


    1. I assume you mean a list of all bogus schools worldwide. Some websites have been trying to do that but I do not believe anyone has a complete list. The Axact list of their 300+ bogus schools is available. Numerous reports they issued hundreds of thousands fake diplomas. The government of Pakistan is working with other governments including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and others to provide them the names.


  3. Thanks for thr useful Article, I think that publishing the list of names of the graduates sorted by country will create a presure on them by their colleagues and the public and will result in public presure on those whom would consider such degree.


  4. Thanks a lot for your magnificent work in exposing fake degree.

    I want to complete my study’s. I have high national diploma in business “accounting” from university of Bahrain 2001 and want to get bachelors degree on line from a credible source. Because it will help me out to be promoted in my current work as a stuff in retail banking

    Were do you advice me to get it from?

    I can’t leave work and study due to financial commitments.


  5. During my study in Los Angeles some thirty years ago, we know about these school. The great jop is on the gulf states how to halt this problem in sharp legislations.


  6. Dear Mr. Hoke thank you for highlighting such a very important subject ‘fake degrees’ from famous Universities’. Between 2003 & 2004 there was an Isian worker working at Harvard University in the States he was selling the degrees from that University along with a fully package of graduation, the cost was USD 1000 per package he send them to the buyers by corrier, thee are many in Bahrainis bought from him and now they are holding big positions in big companies.


  7. Dear Hok

    Its good topic to bring up for discussion but you do not have to tie the problem with only GCC countries all countries do the same especially Aisa. Since you have specifically foucs on UAEs and KSAs have fake certificates, i disgree with you they are not fake they are real but they didnt work hard for it in order to earn it. The problem you have opened your doors for ppl to get these certificates easly,,, you people in west your universities want to money in return to give out your certificates. Moreover, after obtaining the “fake the certificates” they need to send it to their Embassy on the country that issued it in order to get stamped and confirm its legal. Then when they come to UAE for example they also need to submit the the Minister of higher education. The question you have showed where they work such as etisalat, that means their certificates are valid and approved to be legal.
    So If you doubt of the integrity of the Ministry of Higher Education and credibility of the certification that is a problem in itself have a judicial side.

    By the way we have no problem with uae citizens get fake certificates and bring them into their own country.
    Becuase at then end they will work for their country and i assume certificate is a path for carrier. On the other hand we have a problem with people like you with no certificate at all , you are just born with your English langauge and have some experince. You have left your country because of low wages, and no positions and run away from taxes also get 4 times the salary you get back home and you never thanks , and keep criticise our people and and Ministry of higher education. Thats not good.

    By the way we have many fake CVs from westren people who have applied in our education sector , private schools, have no idea who to teach or manage or deal with kids in school. Thats why in the last cuple of years they have fired many of them.

    So have choosen good topic and u will be more famous now if is that what u are trying to gain from this issue.


  8. I agree 100% with Emarate comment .we have to think twice before we jump to conclusions or to praise ideas without making sure it’s a valid and accurate informations.


    1. I think the main point of the article is to have governments close & prevent diploma mill groups such as Axact and others like Must University from operating and issuing degrees from schools that do not exist. I do know for a fact that the Ministry of Higher Education in the UAE agrees with that position. There is likely a series of new regulations and punishments that will be implemented in the upcoming months.

      Hopefully we will also see in the region more offerings of blended degrees by accredited institutions located in the Gulf.


  9. Not Accepted by any civilised people to have a fake degrees especially issued by american universities. This degree’s targeted by organise policy to eliminate develop countries from getting proper education


  10. What I would like to know is what happens to those poor people who have been ripped off of thousands of pounds not knowing if the college is real or fake. Do they get compensation back?? its not their fault they fell for such scams the American government and other governments where fake colleges are should do more. Until they get their fingers out and severely punish these scammers, it will continue and people will continue to get scammed, innocent people.


  11. This is the account detail MUST Used to scam 15,000 + 2000 uk pounds
    There account beneficiary name is: Edu Learning Systems
    Account No: 383012638925
    Swift Code: BOFAUS3N
    IBAN/Routing Number: 031202084
    Beneficiary Address: Delves Beach Florida 32073
    The person who have taken my money is:
    Dr Ricardo Fernandes
    Sebastian McRoy


      1. Hoke there is a new set of scammers now this action has opened up too all those who have already been conned. What happens is an Arab person with the telephone number xxx xxxx xxxx called Rashid will call stating he is from the MOI and they have a case against you from the University. He will tell you to email a company call the Gulf Education and Examination centre once you email them they will call you back on an American number +1 xxx-xxx-xxxx and a Saudi Number also. Once they get you on the phone they say you are a bad person you didn’t check the uni with them and to sort out the case you need a letter of clearance and disassociation with the University that you did your degree with. To issu you a token they want 3000 dollars that after threating you to leave the country. What I am amazed at is where have they got all the names, telephone no etc from if they are not part of MUST or AXA. The Police and security service have been issued with their emails and telephone numbers. They say its a fraud and if I remember correctly you goy offered a cheap degree from the same place. Please warn other victims.


  12. See MUST is trying to get money out of their existing customers again by promising to sort out the mess they got us all into so beware everyone


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