Dozens of Websites Selling Fake UK Degrees Shut Down | Top Universities

Dozens of Websites Selling Fake UK Degrees Shut Down

By Sabrina Collier

Updated February 24, 2021 Updated February 24, 2021

There has been a major crackdown on the sale of fake degrees in the UK, the BBC reports. More than 40 fraudulent websites have been shut down for selling authentic-looking degree certificates supposedly from real UK universities, along with some providers of distance learning courses lacking UK accreditation.

The UK government announced its intention to prosecute and take down fake degree websites back in June 2015, while in 2014 a BBC Radio Kent investigation discovered that fake University of Kent degree certificates were being sold online in China for £500 apiece.

The fake degree websites in question may use the name of a real UK university, or a similar-sounding version – for example, ‘Stafford University’, based on the real Staffordshire University. Other fake degree providers have included ‘Cambridgeshire University’ and ‘Wolverhamton University’ (missing the ‘p’ in the real provider’s name). Fake degree certificates using the University of Manchester brand have also been spotted on auction website eBay.

The UK agency set up to investigate the issue, the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (Hedd) has had reports of over 90 bogus websites. Higher education services director Jayne Rowley commented that September 2016 was their busiest month so far in the shutdown of fraudulent websites both in the UK and overseas.

In the UK, institutions cannot legally call themselves a university unless they’re entitled to do so with an order from the Secretary of State, and it is a breach of trademark laws to trade on a real university’s good name. Potentially illegal activity in the UK, which tends to be in the form of individuals running operations from home, is reported to trading standards or the police. Overseas operations – including some which are highly sophisticated – are reported to the relevant authority in that country.

Ms Rowley has also expressed concerns about recent graduates sharing images of themselves with their genuine degree certificates on social media. She called for graduates to avoid doing so, telling The Telegraph: “This plays into the hands of fraudsters. If someone wants to copy the certificate, they will be able to tell what color the certificate is, what it looks like, the Vice Chancellor’s signature and so on.”

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This article was originally published in January 2017 . It was last updated in February 2021

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Written by

The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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