A quick study Bogus degrees from non-existent colleges cause headaches for employers in China
Jul 7th 2012 | BEIJING | from the print edition
On July 3rd a former Ministry of Education official went on trial in Beijing charged with swindling students who hoped to study in America. The man, and three others, are alleged to have posed as agents for a non-existent American college called “Nation University”.
As well as ripping off aspiring students, Chinese crooks also cater to businessmen who want to plump up their CVs. In April nine people stood trial in the capital charged with selling fake degree certificates from non-existent American colleges. They charged up to 190,000 yuan ($30,000) each, selling the diplomas mainly to corporate executives. The businessmen paid up, went to a few classes and received the diplomas, with no exam required.
For those who cannot afford a degree from a fake foreign university, more than 100 fake Chinese universities now offer diplomas for sale. Many of them have websites and use names similar to those of real colleges. Some even use doctored photographs to advertise their qualifications: one image online shows a group of students said to be from the non-existent Wuhan University of Industry and Commerce standing in Tiananmen Square—the original photograph shows the same group under a banner proclaiming who they really are: students from the Beijing Institute of Petrochemical Technology.
In one case that came to light in June a group of 68 students had been paying to attend class at what they thought was a programme affiliated with the Shandong Institute of Light Industry. After four years they found out that everything about the programme had been a scam (even though the institute was real), and that the man behind the scheme had vanished.
Xiong Bingqi of Shanghai’s (genuine) Jiaotong University says the problem is a lack of government regulation. Slowly, though, computerised anti-fraud systems are being introduced to stop those with dubious certificates from landing government jobs. A growing number of foreign and Chinese companies now check the authenticity of diplomas as well. The Beijing case in April came to light after one victim’s certificate for a PhD in business administration from Abraham Lincoln University failed to pass an authenticity test. She alerted police.
Such cases have not stopped the fraudsters, and would-be students are still trying to buy their way to a better career. A diploma can make all the difference in the modern Chinese job hunt. In some cases fee-paying students know they are matriculating with a fake university but see it as an easy way to obtain a diploma. You can buy everything else in China, so why not academic qualifications?
“Chinese people pay more attention to having a diploma than they do to having a real education,” says Mr Xiong. “A diploma is worth actual money, whereas an education is not.”
from the print edition | China