Academic qualifications are an indispensable part of all professional credentials and personality of an intellectual. Although academic qualifications do not fundamentally signify competence and ability, qualifications still instill their holder with a definite measure of value and could direct decisive recruitment as well as selection processes. Nevertheless, for qualifications to expressively serve this principle, their authenticity requires being verified.
Assessing and verification of international qualifications has always been an accomplishment that, more and more, concerns universities that endeavor to act internationally. Bearers of foreign qualifications have many a time found that their scholarly credentials were basically not acknowledged for evaluation by several admissions officers. However, there has been in recent times a transformation in this regard particularly in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand in addition to a number of countries in the Middle East owing to the adoption of the Lisbon Convention (Hacker & Sommers, 2011).
The Lisbon Convention is the initial European legal act to require that every person has a right to a just assessment of their foreign academic credentials. The Lisbon Convention transformed the perspective from the necessity to seek a full equivalence of foreign qualifications to acceptance if no significant disparities are evident. While recognition in regard to the Lisbon Convention is founded on mutual trust in addition to provision of information among the higher education systems of countries that are parties to it, the character of Lisbon Convention may as well be practiced in a wide-ranging global perspective. Meanwhile the Convention aspires at breaking restrictions for intercontinental student mobility, and hence, academic qualifications have grown into a worldwide currency (Jeffrey, 2006). This paper posits to explore why government ought to assume stronger steps in verifying foreign degrees.
Governments should take easier steps to verify foreign degrees for three major reasons which are time, reputation, and money.
People all over the globe are assessed against the academic merits that they hold, not only in the process of applying for a studies but also I the process of applying for a career or a permit for residence. As in several nations, educational achievements establish the support, benefits, employment and wealth the bearer is entitled to. These academic documents grant the holder right of entry to privileges that might be withheld from persons who do not possess such documents. On the other hand, the most important disparity between proper currency and scholastic credentials is that whereas the former is heavily protected against deception, the latter frequently lacks that protection (Public Service Commission, 2009). Consequently, producing forgery has developed into a multi-billion industry. On the contrary, International evaluation of credential as well as fraud detection is intricate. Customarily, those nations and universities that are popular targets amongst foreign students are liable to demand the most scrupulous procedures for admittance (Foreign Credentials Referral Office, 2011). Meanwhile, several countries particularly in the Scandinavia have by tradition had an extremely hassle-free approach in relation to procedures for admittance with hardly any security features. On the other hand, in current times the position towards admission of international student has began to change and a number of countries have established centralized admittance procedures.
As numerous centralized units are established and universities create their own admittance systems, the amount of international candidates continues to increase and numerous universities are under pressure to sustain the pace. Besides, not all can be achieved in the centralized units or even not all universities have the opportunity to link with such centralized units (Public Service Commission of Canada, 2010).
The admissions policies reflect the aspirations and values of any educational institution around the world. Assessment of qualification is a component of all university’s admittance policy, which is required to serve the function of recruiting the finest scholar for the institution as well as the pertinent programme. The implementation of the admittance policy necessitates meticulous knowledge on prospective applicants’ credentials and capacity to apply it in a manner that international candidates would be treated uniformly (Pruss, 2009). In order to circumvent anybody from abusing the system, it is vital that universities declare the procedure online and clearly affirm whether a prospective candidate requires applying expressly to the university or through an agent.
On account of the easy access to first-class laser printers as well as stamps that are on sale online, forging documents is becoming increasingly uncomplicated than ever before. Regrettably, universities as well as other authorities that issue educational credentials have not sustained the pace. Hence, no matter how excellent the original documents may be, the counterfeits can be nearly identical. The number of phony universities and counterfeit degrees is increasing speedily, making the boundary between fraud and legally established procedure extremely thin. Therefore, those who desire abuse the system are capable of doing it comparatively easily. Internet provides an ideal platform where courses and institutions can be set up and degree certificates sold. Degree mills that appear online as institutions that offer distance learning programs may appear as legitimate universities, since they have persuasive URL endings like .edu. These illegitimate institutions often maintain to be certified by dubious accreditation agencies, making it increasingly complicated to ascertain their authenticity (Gollin, 2008).
Owning to the intricacy of detecting fraud, governments should take easier steps to verify foreign degrees for three major reasons which are time, reputation, and money. This would be the most appropriate and effective way to eliminate fraud. Conventionally it has been the liability of the officers responsible of student admissions to identify fraud by examining whether the educational credentials contain discrepancies or errors. Taking into consideration the myriad quantity of admittance documents that universities should deal with yearly, it is impracticable to inspect every document meticulously (Jeffrey, 2006).
However, government intervention in verification of foreign degrees is usually met with resistance owing to the fact that the value attached to academic credential denotes the difference between success and mediocrity in the life of an individual. This results in the high financial stakes in the counterfeit industry. Factors such as lack of adequate financing in order to deal with the predicament are evident in many arts of the world. The verification of foreign degrees should be integrated as an obligatory and fundamental step in the recruitment as well as selection process of all government departments as the starting point. Appointment ought to be approved when the qualifications are confirmed. The verification of foreign degrees appears to pose challenges to many government departments hence; the matter requires to be dealt with at policy levels. The verification of foreign degrees entails various interconnected processes as well as systems, and necessitates liaison with peripheral institutions. An appraisal of the progress in this regard, consequently, necessitates a technique that takes cognizance of the diverse elements and actors that form components of the foreign degree verification process (Steltenpohl, 2004).
Foreign Credentials Referral Office. (2011). The Progress Report 2009. Retrieved from www.credentials.gc.ca
Gollin, G. (2008). Online Vendors & Irregular University Diplomas: Buying PhDs. from Non- existent Universities. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass.
Hacker, D. & Sommers, N. (2011). A Writer’s Reference. Boston, MA: Bedford/St.Martins.
Jeffrey, R. (2006). Utilization of Immigrant Skill in Canada: Research on Implications of Human Capital, International Migration & Integration Journal 2. pp. 34-38.
Pruss, A. (2009). Advancement & Challenges of Immigrants in the Labor market. New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Public Service Commission. (2009). The Verification of Qualifications in Public Service. Pretoria.
Public Service Commission of Canada. (2010). Verification of Educational Credentials: Exploring the Public Service Commission of Canada. Ottawa: Public Service Commission of Canada.
Steltenpohl, S. (2004). Orientation to College: A Reader. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
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