Student credibility check could 'jeopardise job offers'

January 21, 2000

Student records staff have attacked a commercial service that plans to check whether graduates are lying about their qualifications.

For Pounds 35 a go, employers will be able to check the validity of potential employees' claims.

The service will be run by Experian, a global information solutions company that, in the United Kingdom, specialises in credit reference, and Q-check, which specialises in checking qualifications. It will use information held by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

University staff are concerned, however, that while care is taken with information supplied to HESA, mistakes do occur. At a statistical level these are trivial but at an individual level, they could cost a genuine student the offer of a job. The student could then launch legal action.

The database covers people who graduated in 1995 or later. If a student claims to have graduated earlier than this, Experian and Q-check will approach the institution directly. But problems could occur with students missing from the 1995-and-later pool.

"We would have to tell the employer that the information has not been verified," said a spokesman for Experian.

This would hit students who had been omitted from the list and those who gain higher education qualifications from further education colleges.

"The service must make clear that the absence of a record does not mean that the person is fraudulent," said Jonathan Moores, deputy academic secretary at University College Warrington.

For Pounds 10, students would be able to check the accuracy of their records and ask for any necessary corrections to be made, according to the Experian spokesman.

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