Education Verification: The Dangers of Diploma Mills

You would be shocked at how often employers fail to spot evidence of fake university or college degrees and qualifications on candidates’ job applications. In an increasingly competitive job market, it can be tempting for candidates to fabricate their education and qualifications from a fake university as a way of enhancing their CV and deceiving employers.

Some organisations can spot evidence clearly, whereas others are none the wiser and fail to spot this rather sophisticated type of fraud, which poses a hiring problem. How can more organisations get around this prevalent issue of bogus education qualifications? Luckily, there is a solution with advancements in pre-employment background screening technology, and vigilance from background check agencies like Eurocom C I.

What is a Diploma Mill?

Diploma mills are companies that falsely claim to be higher education institutions, offering illegitimate academic diplomas and degrees for a fee. These institutions often require no academic study whatsoever and will often award degrees in a very short space of time, based on ‘life experiences’.

Diploma mills seem legitimate based on first impressions, usually backed up with a convincing website and realistic-looking transcripts and degrees. That said, academic accrediting bodies do not recognise them.

What are the Risks of Diploma Mills?

Hiring someone without the proper qualifications can pose a significant risk to an organisation, its customers and reputation. Therefore, hiring managers must verify all qualifications during the pre-employment screening process to verify a candidate’s education.

Whether they knowingly or unknowingly have a fake degree is irrelevant; if that candidate doesn’t have the required education or employment history to support their application, the risks to hiring companies are substantial.

Every organisation should have structured background check processes in place to spot evidence of false education history. With the help of Eurocom C I, these processes can be automated and factored into all necessary pre-employment screening processes, including ID verification, criminal records checks, employment history, social media checks and more.

How to Tell When a Candidate Has Used a Diploma Mill

It’s not always easy to spot evidence of false or forged educational qualifications, but here are some key indicators that point to a candidate having used a diploma mill, whether by choice or through no fault of their own.

The degree is based on ‘life experience’

The institution has no fixed address

A fake institution will usually offer students credits or results for relevant work or life experience. Accredited institutions would give credits for experiences relevant to the legitimate degree, such as internships or work experience, but not the entire degree.

Diploma mills usually won’t have a physical location or address. If such an institution only has a PO Box address on their website, this could indicate that they’re not a legitimate higher education institution.

The studies are tailor-made

You can spot a diploma mill if they offer customised courses that are tailored to a particular chosen degree. They may also promise legitimate degrees in as little as a few months, weeks or even days. Contrastingly, a legitimate institution will offer a wide variety of courses for students, which will often take years to complete.

No proof of coursework or exams were taken

If a ‘college’ or ‘university’ offers degrees without the need for exams or coursework, they are, invariably, a diploma mill. Similarly, if there is no reference to any course professors or teachers, this usually means they’re not a legitimate institution, which would require both coursework and interaction with teachers, even if they operate online.

Flat fees

You’ll know that the institution is a diploma mill if it charges a fee on a ‘per-degree’ basis. Conversely, real universities and colleges will charge by semester, course or credit.

No accreditation from recognised bodies

Some legitimate institutions don’t share their accreditation for specific reasons, but a diploma mill wouldn’t have such industry accreditation to begin with, from any educational, provincial or territorial body.

Spotting Evidence of a Diploma Mill

The most effective way to tackle the prevalent problem of diploma mills is to ensure your organisation has structured, consistent and thorough education checks in place. These educational verification checks confirm a candidate’s academic history, degree type, dates of attendance, honours received, professional memberships and other industry qualifications.

Education Verification Checks

A professional background check company will have a database of legitimate educational facilities, along with infamous diploma mills and repeat offenders. This will help organisations spot evidence of the institutions falsely advertising as legitimate. The checks to verify candidates' education can seamlessly blend in with other pre-employment checks, therefore saving organisations time handling recruitment processes.

At Eurocom CI, we provide education background check solutions for businesses across many industries, but if you require something more bespoke, get in touch with us, and we will be glad to assist.