While qualification fraud has remained consistently high in Africa, with South Africa at 16% for two consecutive years, there are circumstances where candidates are not the ones to blame, having been scammed into thinking that their qualifications are legitimate.
Forging and altering certificates
A background screening index revealed that of over 470 000 qualifications verified in 2015, more than 70 000 were found to be negative, inconsistent or fraudulent.
This includes candidates deliberately forging or altering their certificates, altering results and never having been awarded the qualification. Although it may be assumed that the above discrepancies were deliberate on behalf of the candidate, the experts in qualification checking highlight that this is not always the case.
Consider a recent investigation by the Department of Higher Education in which 53 colleges were identified as providing ‘less than legitimate’ qualifications – 21 of which fall within the religious sector.
Qualifications not recognised
Likewise, in January 2016, the owner of a bogus college in Soshanguve was forced to refund disgruntled students who had paid deposits before discovering that the college was not registered with the department and that their qualifications would therefore not be recognised.
In cases such as these, students may be unaware that their qualification is not legitimate until they apply for a position that requires qualification verification.
Growing culture of fraud
Because of a growing culture of fraud, corruption and dishonesty, it is crucial for students to take measures to ensure that they study at an institution that is accredited to provide the course they wish to study.
Not all universities or colleges provide every course, relevant to every industry.
In order to find a legitimate institution for your field of study, do your research. Look for accredited institutions for your course online, making sure you only view official webpages of reputable sources.
Ask an expert
Another helpful form of research is to talk to people you know and who work in the field you want to enter after completing your qualification. Ask them what course and institution they, as well as their colleagues, attended.
Attend career days, such as the Career Indaba and Student Expo, as they are a great opportunity to meet with people who work or study at different institutions. Ask questions and be sure to find out about their accreditation status.
Ask the experts. Once you find an institution that appeals to you, ask an expert about its accreditation status in relation to your chosen course.