30th October 2019

Frederico Links

Frederico Links is the editor and lead researcher of Namibia Fact Check and a research associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)

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How to spot a fake academic institution

FAKERY … The ‘campus’ and the letter.

 

Fake academic institutions continue to hunt for victims to fleece in Namibia, but these steps should help you not fall prey to them

 

One of the more persistent fake academic institutions is the London Graduate School / Commonwealth University.

For more background on the London Graduate School / Commonwealth University’s activities in Namibia, go here.

An online search will also reveal numerous articles and warnings identifying these entities as notorious ‘diploma / degree mills’, especially targeting professionals and prominent individuals in developing countries.

It is against this backdrop that Namibians are cautioned not to fall for such ‘diploma / degree mill’ scams.

Following is a checklist to apply when there is uncertainty about the credibility of a supposed academic institution that approaches individuals in an unsolicited manner, offering them academic qualifications:

  • Can the qualification be purchased?
  • Is the institution listed on the official list of all accredited institutions in the country in which it says it is situated?
  • Is the claim of accreditation from a questionable accreditation body?
  • Is the Unesco logo used to falsely claim approval?
  • Is little if any attendance from students required in class or online?
  • Do the principals involved have qualifications from other ‘diploma mills’?
  • Do the principals involved make dubious boasts about their academic records such claiming to have written publications that cannot be traced online?
  • Is the name of the institution similar to well-known universities or institutions, such as Cambridge International University, Trinity College and University or Commonwealth University?
  • Is the address of the institution a PO Box or somewhere which is clearly not an institution of higher learning?
  • Does the institution have a telephone number that connects to a call centre or an answering machine or is redirected to a mobile phone?
  • Does the institution offer ‘non-traditional education’ or ‘distance learning’ and assigns credits for relevant life and career experience?
  • Does the institution claim to be registered in a country which has little government regulation of higher learning and/or is a tax haven?

Lastly, stay aware and be skeptical … and do your research. That’s the best way to not fall prey to online scammers.

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