A SENIOR Education Ministry official has defended Bahrain’s academic accreditation body, in the wake of allegations that a number of professionals were operating with fake qualifications.
The GDN reported yesterday that an inquiry had been launched by the Higher Education Council (HEC), following claims that allegedly fraudulent academic documents were being obtained from fictitious or unaccredited universities.
Exclusive documents obtained by the GDN’s sister newspaper Akhbar Al Khaleej indicated professionals including teachers, engineers, doctors, IT specialists and human resources directors of various nationalities secured their positions using fake Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
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The documents also indicated a large number of employees in the public and private sectors held fake degrees from fictitious universities, particularly the “Columbus and Nixon universities”.
However, Education Ministry Under-Secretary for Education and Curricula Affairs Dr Fawzi Al Jowder said it was wrong to pin the blame on Bahrain’s National Accreditation Committee, which is responsible for officially recognising academic certificates.
The committee is made up of officials representing Bahrain University, Arabian Gulf University, the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), the College of Health Sciences, as well as doctors, accountants, engineers and lawyers.
“The panel is keen on scrutinising all qualifications to ensure they are obtained from licensed universities, which are accredited in their countries of origin,” said Dr Al Jowder.
The committee assesses and accredits academic qualifications, above secondary level, issued by overseas universities.
“The committee makes sure a degree is obtained from a real university, not a virtual one or one that provides online electronic distance learning,” said Dr Al Jowder.
“The committee also makes sure graduates obtain their degree after attending courses, which means residence in the country of the university where they are enrolled.”
As part of the process the committee liaises with official authorities abroad, as well as cultural attaches at Bahraini embassies overseas, to ensure the credibility of academic certification.
“Regarding reports about fake degrees, which enabled a number of employees to obtain jobs and hold senior positions, public employees are subjected upon their employment at the CSB to provide an accredited academic degree,” said Dr Al Jowder.
“Fake degrees issued by fictitious universities are referred immediately to the Public Prosecution.
“The committee is not responsible for the accreditation of employees hired by private establishments, unless the demand is submitted to scrutinise degrees.
“The committee will work hand-in-hand to combat the fake degrees scam in line with the instructions of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.”