Clampdown on fake degrees
Manama, August 18, 2008
Strict checks in Bahrain have kept the door closed on bogus degrees, it was declared on Sunday.
The Higher Education Council said that it had not received any bogus degrees under its accreditation system.
The council, which is responsible for accrediting degrees, says that every submission is evaluated according to strict regulations.
This comes after 10 people from Bahrain appeared on a US government watchlist accused of buying counterfeit college and university degrees on Saturday.
They were among 10,000 people who spent $7.3 million (BD2.75m) between them purchasing qualifications from a so-called ’degree mill’ based in Washington.
Among those implicated are hundreds of people with links to the US military, educational institutions, government and security agencies such as the CIA.
All higher education degrees issued outside the country are presented to the National Committee for Degree Evaluation, said Education Ministry public relations directorate head Widad Radhi Al Mousawi.
’The degrees do not get accredited unless they pass all the requirements and ensures university validity,’ she said.
’Any degree that does not meet the requirements will be returned and not accredited.’
Al Mousawi said that the committee dealt with degrees with complete transparency and objectivity.
’The council’s membership includes a number of academics, specialists, lawmakers, and experts from different associations in the kingdom.’
’They take full responsibility in ensuring and guaranteeing all the accreditations to all conditions and requirements.’
She said the council made sure that degree holders in the kingdom are qualified.
’The committee checks three criteria when they accredit degrees,’ said Al Mousawi.
’They check the documents presented by the student and the university and its accreditation body.’
’Next they check the subjects and the major the student studied and then check the degree according to the conditions and requirements of the committee.’
Media reports say the buyers paid anything from a few hundred dollars for bachelor’s and master’s degree and up to $7,770 (BD2,937) for a PhD (doctorate).
However, some of those on the watchlist claim to have spent time studying and submitting assignments and say they have been the victims of an elaborate con.
According to the document, the people listed from Bahrain are said to have bought school diplomas and Master of Art, Batchelor of Art and Master of Science degrees.
People from other Gulf countries and around the world were also on the list.
The US Justice Department refused to release the watchlist of buyers, but it was published by the daily newspaper The Spokesman-Review.
It states one Nasa worker is alleged to have bought an electrical engineering degree, using an e-mail account at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to correspond with the diploma mill.
Eight people who set up and operated the diploma mill have already been indicted and convicted of federal crimes, after being caught through the US Attorney’s Office Operation Gold Seal.
The ringleader, a 58-year-old high school dropout, was jailed for three years.
The husband and wife team are said to have sold counterfeit degrees and transcripts from legitimate colleges as well as phoney degrees and transcripts from non-existent online universities and schools.
According to court documents, the ringleader twice bought one million e-mail addresses and sent e-mails telling people they could ’earn a college degree the easy way’.
They also allegedly offered ’special holiday gift certificates’ providing buyers a ’free dean list certificate’.
Another promotion included an of