By Dean Hoke, Managing Partner Edu Alliance Group. and member of the Board of Directors of the United States Distance Learning Association.
As many of know for the past 3 ½ years Edu Alliance has been reporting via the traditional news outlets, blogs, and social media on the proliferation of fake degrees and diploma mills and how the Arab world has been targeted. We at Edu Alliance in conjunction with Al Fanar in 2015 were involved in exposing telemarketing degree scams in the GCC. Later that year, the New York Times did a major investigative piece on Axact who was operating over 300 non-existent universities.
The New York Times articles exposed the bogus degree business led by Axact CEO Shoaib Shaikh, which had generated hundreds of millions of dollars by selling bogus university and high school degrees worldwide. In the GCC alone, ten’s of thousands of people both expats and nationals purchased these worthless degrees. Twenty-three people including Mr. Shoaib were convicted and sentenced to seven years of imprisonment plus a fine of Rs500,000.
It is important to note that in spite of these convictions there are still a number of groups who are telemarketing in the GCC offering bogus degrees or from schools which are not recognized by any of the education Ministry’s in the region which means they have no value. Remember to be very cautious if you get a call or see an advertisement offering a degree for very low tuition and little if any work. Make sure to check with your local or federal government entity website to determine if it is an institution recognized by the proper accreditation agency. Otherwise you are wasting your money, possibly putting yourself in a position to be fired by your employer or worse, blackmailed by the seller of the degree. Remember, if it seems to good to be true then it likely is.
To read the news reports on the conviction of Shoaib Shaikh and the other go to these news links:
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE
THE NEWS INTERNATIONAL
Edu Alliance is a higher education consultancy firm with offices in the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The founders and its advisory members have assisted higher education institutions on a variety of projects, and many have held senior positions in higher education in the United States and internationally.
Our specific mission is to assist universities, colleges and educational institutions to develop capacity and enhance their effectiveness.
Thank you to Advisory Council member Ken Salomon for making Edu Alliance aware of the hearing.