France is the latest nation to take degree fraud seriously (“French education minister announces new degree qualifications database”, 22 January), but as we’ve learned from running Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) in the UK, protecting higher education requires collaboration from universities, employers and government.
Hedd.ac.uk, which is backed by the government, already contains candidate information from 26 UK universities, allowing qualifications for a quarter of UK graduates to be verified securely online. Since launching, it has processed more than 90,000 qualification checks and identified more than 200 bogus institutions. Working with authorities here and abroad, we have seen more than 40 per cent of illicit operators reported to us since June closed down.
The number of fake institutions selling degrees far outweighs that of genuine institutions internationally, and more appear online daily. Addressing this demands collaboration. Employers must always verify qualifications. Authorities must work together internationally. The government must continue to fund and back the systems in place. And universities must act individually and collectively with clear policies on degree fraud to protect their brand, reputation and students.
Prospects HEDD service