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. 

 

ABOUT EDU ALLIANCE GROUP

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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

 

 

Axact CEO Shoaib Shaikh, gets 7-year jail term in fake degrees case

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

GEO NEWS

DAWN

THE NEWS INTERNATIONAL


cropped-edu-alliance-logo-square1.jpgEdu 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.