By Aisha Sajid, September 26 2017 —
The value of an undergraduate education is being damaged by those who cheat their way into jobs with fake degrees. In a professional marketplace that hires candidates with a master’s degree and a few years of professional experience for an ‘entry-level’ job, undergraduates don’t have an easy path into the selection pool.
Buying fake credentials takes the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’ to an extreme. For those that don’t have the time and resources to go through years of education, buying your way to an education may be an attractive alternative.
There are legitimate ways around job competition, like using personal connections and networking to get a job. The point still remains — undergraduate degrees are not enough for many opportunities. Still, buying a fake degree is not the answer. Even intelligent people who have completed years of education are falling for fake degree scams and hiring fraudsters in their practices. People like Dubravko Zgrablic, who taught computer science at four different Toronto institutions before his fake credentials were discovered, exemplify this. This not only demonstrates that society is forcing those who otherwise would not compromise their morals to engage in these unsavoury practices, but also that fake degrees decrease the value of the education that many Canadians work hard to attain.
Creating fake diplomas has become a billion-dollar industry. This month, a CBC Marketplace investigation found that more than 800 Canadians could have fake degrees, ranging from undergraduates to doctorates. For the most part, they’ve gone unquestioned. And it’s not hard to find a supplier of phoney degrees. A quick Google search will give you links to buying any fake credential you’d like, proving accessibility is not an issue.
Thankfully, many professions are regulated by government agencies, protecting titles from social worker to interior designer from fraudulent practices. These professions require a certain level of education, are governed with codes of conduct and requires workers to undergo periodic recertification. This should protect against hiring professionals with fake degrees, but even the best can fall for convincing fakes. It happened to Toronto lawyer Dennis Yang, who hired a fraudster with a fake law degree to run his practice.
This is in part the fault of companies who only hire employees with extensive experience and multiple degrees. The pressure to be extraordinary to get an ordinary job is forcing people to engage in behaviour they normally wouldn’t — like buying a fake degree.
As students we should be proud of attaining degrees through legitimate means. And as a society we need to re-evaluate the intense pressure that the job market puts on candidates. Any education is a valid one and can serve an employer’s needs as long as it’s not purchased by way of fake degree mills.