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

 

 

Higher Education MENA Conference November 20-Bridging The Regional Skills Gap

Bridging the Regional Skills Gap will be addressed on 20 November at the Higher Education MENA Conference, at the Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre. Expert panelist from higher education and industry will present their views on how to align higher education with the labour market needs in the Middle East Region.

The young higher education sector has an opportunity to develop tailored curricula to meet the issue of youth unemployment and underemployment and better align with the current labour market. Education institutions and the private sector needs to improve communication and collaboration to stimulate educational output in the region. How can market needs be communicated better into the higher education institutions? What steps can be taken to improve the alignment of post-secondary education output to national economic needs? What are the challenges that institutions are facing in meeting industry needs while operating in a highly regulated sector?

Moderated by Dr. Senthil Nathan, Managing Director of Edu Alliance Ltd. in Abu Dhabi, the panel will feature Professor Tod Laursen President Khalifa University, Professor Mohamed Salem President of the University of Wollongong in Dubai, Professor Ehab Abdel-Rahma, Provost American University of Cairo and Mohammed Al Raqbani General Manager Dubai Investment Industries LLC.

Dr. Senthil commented: “I was approached by the conference organizers to examine a critical regional issue in higher education. Edu Alliance strongly believes that the region’s higher education institutions and the industry have much more room to collaborate to address this Skills Gap challenge. That’s the primary motivation behind designing this panel discussion as well as to help this forum make the academia-industry collaboration as the main theme.”

Dr. Nathan was asked why he asked this eminent panel of experts to represent the different sides of the solution to this challenge.

Ehab Adel RahmanEhab Abdel-Rahman: Egypt has the region’s largest number of educated but unemployed youth. Provost Ehab Abdel-Rahman who represents the top-ranked university in Egypt that has almost a century of history in educational excellence is well placed to address this challenge.

 

 

 

profsalem_smallMohamed Salem: To fast-track progress in higher education, UAE hosts the world’s highest number of branch campuses of international universities. President Mohamed Salem represents the oldest and the largest of these branch campuses and will present the unique perspectives of international universities in addressing the skills gap in this region.

 

 

 

 

Al RaqbaniMohammed Al Raqbani: Regional industry represents the other side of the dialogue. Mr. Mohammed Al Raqbani – who heads a strong company that hosts or invests in a wide array of industries in Dubai – will offer a industry perspective on skills gap both from the region’s employers and also from the two universities that his company has invested in.

 

 

 

 

New_AURAK_provost_Prof_Wilhite_(Photo_ME_NewsWire)Stephen Wilhite: The American University of Ras Al Khaimah and its Provost Stephen Wilhite works closely with local government and industry to meet the skills gap in Ras Al Khaimah. They offer a wide ranging number of degrees that promotes advanced critical thinking skills, fosters creativity, and instills a commitment to lifelong learning. 

 

 

 

“I hope that the interaction between the panelists and the conference participants will spark an ongoing discussion to design a way forward that will bridge the regional skills gap by aligning graduate outcomes with employer needs.”

Background on Bridging the Regional Skills Gap

Youth unemployment rate in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is more than double the global average of 13%. There are many factors contributing to this major problem. As with many parts of the world, the skills gap is certainly a major factor behind unemployment– as evidenced by millions of expat staff recruited to the same region. A 2016 research report compiled by YouGov and Bayt.com on the skills gap in the MENA region, finds “a profound disconnect between the perceptions held by employers and the perceptions held by job seekers.” Of the top three recommendations made in this survey, two of them involve educational institutions and companies working together:

  • Companies, educational institutions, and governments should work together to predict future skills needs.
  • Companies and educational institutions should work together to provide students with the skills they need to enter the job market.

Another one in the top 5 recommendations in the top five is:

  • Educational institutions should teach students the skills they need to enter the job market.

About Edu Alliance: Edu Alliance is a higher education consulting services firm based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Its sister company, Edu Alliance Group, has offices in Indianapolis, Indiana USA. The company provides the experience and expertise colleges and universities need to expand and optimize their engagement with students and institutions around the world. We help universities think strategically and creatively about their international programs. Edu Alliance provides a diverse group of distinguished higher education professionals to research, plan, and execute international education programs.

For additional information or to arrange an interview contact: Dean Hoke, Co-Founder Edu Alliance Ltd. dean.hoke@edu-alliance.net : (USA) +001 502-257-1063: Twitter: @EduAllianceUAE: Website http://www.edu-alliance.net/