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Action urged against 'fake degree holders' in private and public sector

Bahrain News
Mon, 20 Aug 2018
By Reem Al Daaysi

LEGISLATORS have demanded the prosecution of private and public sector employees who allegedly hold fake degrees from fictitious universities.

It comes as His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa yesterday directed the Higher Education Council (HEC) to investigate reports of fake qualifications, which might have been obtained from overseas fictitious or unaccredited universities.

The GDN reported on Saturday on exclusive documents showing that many teachers, engineers, doctors, IT specialists and human resources directors of different nationalities used fake bachelor’s and master’s degrees to secure important positions.

The documents also revealed that a large number of employees working in both sectors hold fake degrees attributed to fictitious universities, particularly the “Columbus and Nixon universities”.

“This is a very serious issue as it carries with it criminal consequences,” said Shura Council member Dr Mohammed Al Khozaie, who is also foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman.

“Forging a degree should not be taken lightly, especially since it involves people claiming to have qualifications they do not possess that could endanger people’s lives.

Exposed

“The law should not just stand idly by as these activities are brought to light – it is on the Education Ministry and the HEC on one hand and the Public Prosecution on the other hand (to deal with this).

“All these people who have faked Masters and PhDs should be exposed.”

Shura Council member Jawad Al Khayyat also stressed the importance of properly examining the legitimacy of degrees obtained overseas before accrediting them – adding that Bahrain’s embassies abroad should play a role in monitoring universities attended by Bahrainis.

“This is a disaster, imagine a practising doctor or engineer with a forged degree,” he told the GDN.

“The Education Ministry needs to launch a fully-fledged investigation into this and also educate fresh graduates about avoiding fraudsters promising degrees in exchange for money.

“The ministry should play a bigger role in monitoring these universities and degrees and not just accredit any degree that people bring to them, and it should also work in co-operation with embassies.

“The next step they need to take is they shouldn’t accredit these certificates that were issued by these universities and block them.”

While Shura Council’s youth and sport committee chairwoman Dr Sawsan Taqawi urged the Education Ministry to re-examine existing qualifications to determine their legitimacy.

“This is crucial especially in degrees that deal with human life such as medical and nursing degrees,” she added.

“I don’t know if this is happening in Bahrain or not but as a preventative measure this is important.”

The Premier also issued an edict yesterday reforming the Academic Accreditation Committee, which will be chaired by HEC’s secretary general for assessment and accreditation and will consist of 10 members for a four-year renewable term.

He instructed the HEC to ensure, through the committee, that those who applied for jobs using fake degrees were not holding any senior positions in the public or private sector.

He also told the HEC to co-operate with relevant authorities to ensure those who obtained fake degrees were not applying for jobs, and directed the council to upgrade the administrative and technical procedures of accrediting certificates and subject them to a periodic review and reassessment.

The New York Times has also released a list comprising more than 200 fictitious universities which was unearthed before authorities in Islamabad shut down Pakistan-based company Axact, described as the empire of the fake degree business, and arrested its executive director and dozens of employees.

The US daily also said that it has compelling evidence that shows how Axact reaped millions of dollars selling fake degrees to people in 100 countries, including some Arab states.

reem@gdn.com.bh