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UAE cracks whip on degree fraudsters

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESR) has called for stricter laws to penalise providers and buyers of forged certificates.



By Sajila Saseendran – Senior Reporter

Published: Thu 18 Jun 2015, 1:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:09 PM

Dubai — In wake of the recent exposure of the Axact global fake degree scam with strong roots here, the UAE authorities have warned of stringent action against sellers and buyers of forged educational certificates.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESR) has called for stricter laws to penalise providers and buyers of forged certificates and warned residents of websites and universities that facilitate fake degrees.

Saif Rashed Al Marzoui, Assistant Undersecretary for Institutional and Support Services, and Prof. Mohammed A. Albaili, provost of the UAE University, said the Press conference was called to clarify certain issues related to fake certificates and the ministry’s stand on it.

They said the ministry has no details of those who received degrees through Axact though there have been reports that claimed most of the 200,000 degree holders in the GCC were from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. However, they said, the ministry is mooting stricter laws to penalise the fraudsters.

“So far, we did not have an arrangement to legally pursue the cases when we find some certificates seeking equivalency certification and attestation are fake,” said Prof. Albaili, who is also the Chairman of the ministry’s Certificate Equivalency Committee. “It was not the ministry’s mandate.”

Al Marzoui said the MoHESR will now work with the Ministries of Interior and Justice to draft laws that will ensure prosecution and severe punishment for the fraudsters.

Last year, the ministry detected 22 certificates as fake. “All that we could do was to reject their attestation and thereby stop the candidates from getting employment,” said Prof. Albaili.

He said all government departments and private firms must make it mandatory for job applicants to get their educational certificates verified and attested by the ministry before issuing them an employment visa.

He said there are foreign universities that offer tailor-made weekend degrees for Gulf students.

“Sometimes people buy fake degrees through virtual universities that sell them and sometimes even approved universities sell degrees to candidates who do not meet all the requirements of their courses.

“The ministry has got four websites of universities that were offering fake degrees blocked and also suspended the licences of three universities in the UAE because they offered certificates to students who did not sit for the entire course,” said Prof. Albaili.

The one-year suspension of licences of these universities can lead to the ministry permanently revoking the licences if they continue to flout rules, he said. “This is a clear message that we will not tolerate such illegal practices.”

Calling on residents not to fall prey to the gimmicks of virtual universities, he said there have been instances where such firms misused the names of UAE authorities and hacked the numbers of the UAE embassy and the ministry to convince gullible applicants.

“One of the sites that we blocked had the image of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, chairing the Cabinet.”

Officials said applicants can cross-check with the website of the ministry for the list of international universities, and institutions for e-learning recommended by the ministry.

sajila@khaleejtimes.com


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