Fake degrees, but real certificates.
A thriving illegal racket in the subcontinent – specifically India and Pakistan - has now spilt over into the UAE with all sorts of educational qualifications up for sale.
For as little as Dh20,000 one can buy an MBA degree certificate from India while, a graduate degree certificate will cost you only Dh5,000.
A diploma in a computer course is in demand and therefore, sells for Dh8,069.
Getting a job and a decent pay-scale in the UAE often hinges on the degrees one possesses – especially if one is from the subcontinent.
For a sales person, having an MBA could mean a salary increase of as much as Dh5,000.
A degree certificate also ensures better visa status and could be the difference between an expatriate getting a family visa or not.
Which is why, the UAE is a bustling market for these fake degrees.
What makes them so unique is that the certificates are actually issued by a real university. This is why attestation is also possible.
However, the buyer just pays up and has never attended the university or an exam.
The Vice-Chancellor of one of India's largest universities - in terms of student enrolment –confirmed to Emirates 24|7 that the scam exists, he is aware of the issue and that the Indian government is taking measures to curtail the practice.
“There are many cases involving various universities. We are aware of the problem and strict measures are being put in place,” Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice- Chancellor of India's Indira Gandhi National Open University said.
A salesman working in the hospitality industry here in the UAE told Emirates 24|7 how he has paid an Indian agent Dh10,000 for an MBA.
“They will ensure your name is on the college rolls you get your certificate. Sometimes the use distance education programmes, so it’s almost impossible to detect,” he says.
Tariq S (name changed), who until recently worked in a furniture store in Dubai says he managed to get a BBA degree in a similar way.
“I tried doing it on my own. I could not dedicate time to study nor write thee exams. Finally I paid up this agent in India and managed to get my degree,” he said.
According to him it is all carefully managed. “You are only accepted by an agent, provided you are referred by one of his earlier customers,” says Tariq.
Cops on the hunt
In June 2010 police in Bangalore, India, busted a major fake degree certificate racket.
Police later said the men used to sell fake degree certificates, mark sheets, and transfer certificates of various universities to students who had otherwise failed in their examinations.
Some of the beneficiaries were employed with multi- national companies, police claimed.
Also in 2010, two men were arrested by the police in Kerala, India, for supplying forged certificates to passport applicants. Police found and seized fake degree certificates of Kerala University and voter IDs.
Police said the fake certificates were being used to help the applicants get jobs abroad.
The Mumbai State Education Department on January 3, 2011, found at least five teachers used fake bachelor of education (BEd) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree certificates to secure jobs in schools.
Pakistan affected too
Pakistan too has launched a major investigation into alleged fake degrees submitted by several of its members of parliament.
According to a report by The News International, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last week expressed doubts over the eligibility of as many as 298 legislators, including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Federal Law Minister Dr Babar Awan, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
The ECP doubted the lawmakers’ eligibility as they had failed to provide copies of their metric and intermediate certificates despite reminders, which impedes the process of verification of graduation degrees and educational certificates, as directed by the Supreme Court.
According to a report published by the UK's Daily Express last week, a large number of fake degree holders enter the UK every year to work as illegal workers.
The report, quoting MigrationWatch, says that almost 32,000 of the more than 250,000 foreign students arriving in the UK every year are bogus students as there are no interviews before a visa is issued and no checks are made on their departure.
“While student applications to the UK from Nepal increased by more than 1,000 per cent, those from Bangladesh increase by over 300 per cent, while those from India were up by 88 per cent. Since March 2009, 56 educational establishments have had their licences revoked for helping students breach visa laws,” the report added.
The Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) said the issuance of fake degree certificates and forgery of mark sheets could soon come to an end with the finalisation of proposals for dematerialising such certificates.
The ministry is considering request for proposals (RFPs) from two depositories – National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) and Central Depository Services Limited (CDSL) – for running the project thereby establishing a national database of academic qualifications (degree/certificates from school to graduate/postgraduate level including professional degrees), that would be created and maintained in an electronic format by a registered depository.
All mark sheets and certificates will be dematerialised a data base will be maintained by the respective depositories.