fake universities
© Andrey Popov |

75 websites fraudulently offering UK degrees have been closed since Prospects was appointed by the government to investigate bogus institutions in 2015

More than 200 potential cases of degree fraud have been investigated by Prospects in the last four years. There are 170 recognised institutions with degree awarding powers in the UK. The list of bogus institutions listed on Prospects Hedd has now reached 243.

Prospects works with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and other law enforcement agencies to force closure of operators offering fake degree certificates or misusing the word ‘university’ which is a protected term under the 2006 Companies Act.

Prospects is made aware of potential degree fraud through its Hedd (Higher Education Degree Datacheck) service, which has verified nearly half a million degrees since 2011, and via the degree fraud reporting service which Prospects runs on behalf of the Department for Education.

Jayne Rowley, chief executive at Prospects said: “Among the suspicious employers and fake certificates we hear from genuine universities who spot fakes using their branding to attract students, collect personal information and course fees.

“This is damaging the reputation of our higher education system, but it is a global issue. The majority of websites are based outside the UK and therefore we need to collaborate more internationally. We need to focus more on prevention. If every employer properly checked the degree qualifications of every candidate there wouldn’t be a market for this type of fraud.”

How to tackle degree fraud

  • Check whether a university or college is an official degree awarding body by using the look-up service on hedd.ac.uk
  • Employers, universities and colleges can download free toolkits to help them deal with degree fraud at hedd.ac.uk
  • Check original degree certificates with the issuing university or via Hedd.ac.uk
  • Degree fraud can be reported to the HEDD fraud team on 0845 077 1968


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