Al Jazeera Investigation of Fake Degrees


By Dean Hoke, Managing Partner Edu Alliance Group – The Al Jazeera television network has recently aired on its investigative series 101 East a 25 minute program called “Pakistan’s Fake Degrees”. The program investigates how Pakistan’s degree mill profits from selling fake qualifications to people around the world. I encourage you to watch the program.

Bogus degrees from “Online Universities” are still a problem worldwide. I have worked in higher education for over 40 years and in online education for the past 20 years.  I currently serve as a Member of the Board of Directors of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and am Chair of the Global Partnerships Committee. I am a strong believer in online education. A majority of higher education institutions in North America and Europe offer quality degree programs that are accredited by their respective countries.  However, there are fraudulent groups that offer fake online degrees from universities that do not exist.

According to Al Jazeera and many others, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world purchase bogus degrees. Many use these fake qualifications to get job promotions and more distributing some get jobs as doctors, nurses, teachers, government officials, and engineers.   Unfortunately, we see a great deal of these fake degrees being used to get jobs in the Middle East and Asia.

Our firm Edu Alliance works in the field of educational consulting throughout the Middle East, India and the United States. We have assisted higher education institutions on a variety of projects and our mission is to assist universities, colleges and educational institutions to develop capacity and enhance their effectiveness. Every member of our team has worked in higher education and are passionate about making sure students get a quality education.  We have also help expose bogus institutions who sell fake degrees.

We assisted publications like Al Fanar Media, The National, and 999 who wrote a series of articles helping to expose these groups and their practices. We also continued to write blogs, articles, editorials and do interviews about fake universities. Our combined efforts and an expose by The New York Times in 2015 brought world-wide attention on the Pakistan-based Axact, which led to the shutdown of over 200 bogus university websites and the arrest of the CEO.

Edu Alliance is proud of its efforts to make the public aware of “universities” offering bogus degrees.  Edu Alliance believes bogus institutions, like the ones stated in the Al Jazeera program, are very damaging to legitimate higher education institutions, government, private business, and to students.  In order to eliminate these predatory groups, all governments and educational accreditation agencies must be proactive in shutting these groups down.  It is also corporation’s responsibility to make sure their current and future employee’s credentials are from accredited institutions. Social media must also take responsibility and not sell advertising to a school unless they can certify the school is offering a legitimate accredited program.

As I wrote 4 years ago:  It is time for GCC education agencies to encourage local universities to offer online degrees for non-traditional students.  The focus should be for adults completing their bachelors degrees, or at the Masters level.  It has been done successfully at North American and European colleges and universities. The online programs must meet the same standards as any classroom program.  By having local accredited universities expanding their offerings via online they will find an untapped student market and discourage bogus schools. 





Edu Alliance is a boutique management consulting company founded in 2014 with offices in Bloomington, Indiana and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The company provides the experience and expertise colleges and universities need to expand and optimize their engagement with students and its stakeholders around the world. We help universities think strategically and creatively about their unique opportunities and challenges.

Edu Alliance provides a diverse group of distinguished higher education professionals to research, plan, and execute programs. The partners and advisory members are available for consulting projects worldwide. Consultancy work includes:

  • Online degree program feasibility and marketing studies
  • Institutional International strategy
  • Executive and Key Faculty Search
  • Market Research, enrollment evaluation planning, marketing research, and branding
  • Educational Technology strategies and implementation



Join us at the USDLA Annual Conference for a ‘Must Hear’ Keynote!

By Dean Hoke, Managing Partner Edu Alliance Group – First published in USDLA blog March 13, 2019. In November of 2018 , I was invited to represent the United States Distance Learning Association in which I serve as a member of the Board of Directors, to be a panelist addressing the question “What is the Future? How do You Make it Happen” at Corporate Learning Week Conference held in Orlando, Florida. Rather than just participate in my panel I wanted to take advantage of the conference and listen to the many fine speakers addressing various training issues. One speaker particularly impressed me. At the USDLA Board Meeting when we were discussing potential keynote speakers for the upcoming Annual Conference on May 20-23 being held in Nashville, Tennessee. I recommended Dr. Trish Holliday. Dr. Holliday is the Chief Learning Officer for the state of Tennessee, and she spoke on “Preparing for the Future – How Learning Can Be a Cultural Divider.” What got my attention about Trish was her passion helping professionals reach their greatest potential.

The title of Chief Learning Officer (CLO) is popularly defined as the highest-ranking corporate officer in charge of learning management. The CLO instead of trying to solve individual problems is to take a bigger picture view of their organization. The CLO develops a vision of learning for the entire organization. In 1989 Jack Welch then CEO of General Electric was one of the first major corporations to name a CLO (Steve Kerr). Since then Corporate American has had a number of CLO’s but in higher education, there are very few, and in government there are none.

Dr. Trish Holliday Keynote Speaker USDLA Annual Meeting

That changed in April 2012 when the state of Tennessee set a new priority for learning for its approximately 43,500 employees in the three branches of government by naming Dr. Holliday its first Chief Learning Officer (CLO). She was not only the first person named CLO for the state of Tennessee but the first CLO for any state government. Trish had been a member of state government working in various positions since 2005. She started as a Training Officer for the Human Resources then named in 2010 the Director of Strategic Learning Solutions in 2010 and in 2012 has appointed to her current post as Assistant Commissioner of Human Resources and CLO.

I believe why she was appointed to her post, besides her obvious talent and experience, is Trish brings enthusiasm and passion for training, coaching, and retention. She is a true believer. You can see and hear this when she speaks. Trish has a passion for lifelong learning, and she has been successful in mentoring and coaching many leaders in engagement, goal setting, competency, and strategic development. She puts her heart and soul into educating adults and helping them become the best they can be.

Trish has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Tennessee Tech University, her Masters of Arts from Scarritt Graduate College and her Doctor of Education from Lipscomb University with an Emphasis in Learning Organizations and Strategic Change.

I think attending the USDLA Annual Conference in Nashville May 20-23, 2019 is well worth your time and investment. I will be attending and speaking on Distance Learning International Partnerships. You can additionally learn many new ideas in the field of online learning no matter the industry, get the opportunity to meet new people, network, and while attending. I would also highly encourage to hear Dr. Holliday as she talks about learning.  I was impressed, and I believe you will be as well.