Easy education: How to spot a fake school

Published: May 8, 2011

Don’t get trapped in the net of fake degree suppliers. A little research can save your life, your career and your hard earned money!

It is not so hard to to attain a student visa for the United Kingdom nowadays and go there for higher education with a dream of becoming rich. Indeed the process has now become very easy – even students who have just completed 12 years of education get admissions in universities in the UK.

The UK earns nearly $1.8 billion annually from international students, most of these are from Asia.

A pertinent question here is: does every university in the UK provide quality education and are all properly accredited?


According to research conducted by a UK based background screening company in 2011, the UK is Europe’s capital in terms of fake universities. There are nearly 339 bogus institutions operating across the country. This is still much less than the United States of America (USA), where nearly 1,008 known ‘diploma mills’ are churning out students every year. Since last year, the total number of these mills increased by 48 per cent.

Many students, mostly due to their lack of information, become victim to these ‘diploma mills,’ and after spending thousands of dollars they learn that their degrees and diplomas are worth nothing at all – not in the UK or their in their own country. Multinationals and local giants actively conduct verification of qualifications of job candidates. They verify two things – one, if the degree or diploma has actually been awarded by the stated university and two, whether this university is legitimate.

I suggest that before applying for a foreign degree, students conduct some research. There are some good online sources available where you can check the legitimacy of an institute. Several countries’ unaccredited universities classification database should also be searched for this purpose.

Furthermore, the following signs can be helpful in spotting a bogus institute:

1. Bogus institutes have names similar to well reputed universities.

2. Websites of diploma mills are poorly designed and have plagiarised body content, copied from a websites of renowned institutions.

3. Real universities have regulated internet domains used by higher education institutions such as “.edu” for the USA, “.ac.uk” for the UK etcetera, whereas the diploma mills are hosted on misleading domains like “.ac”, “.co.uk” or “.com”.

4. Bogus universities are limited to email addresses and/or a phone number as points of contact. They are often ambiguous and unclear about their physical location.

5. Fake institutions showcase accreditation with educational bodies which are very hard to find.

A little research can save your life, your career and your hard earned money!

Khurram Zahid

Khurram Zahid

Head of online marketing at a background screening company in Pakistan, Khurram spends most of his time on social networking sites for business - not pleasure

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • parvez

    Your write up makes good sense.
    For a very large number of those who apply for schooling abroad (to literally anywhere) the prime objective is to get out and in the process if one gets an education, then well and good. The alternative of staying back, for those who know they do not have the means or ability to make it into the few ( count them on the fingers of both hands ) good schools in the country, is really no option. Recommend

  • rida

    I used to pass by a college called “Preston” and I think it was inspired by Pronceton. Then there was a Texas Tech in Gulshan. George Washington High in Nazimabad.
    How can ppl fall for this stuff? It’s sad.
    PS: Has anyone seen the movie Accepted? It is awesome.Recommend

  • Maria

    Is it any different than going to University in the Carribbean islands for US students who don’t have any merit?Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    I work in HR, and I have had to go through people’s CVs with foreign degree, I only just recently got a application from some one who attended an un accredited university in the UK, which now no longer exists. It closed down cause it never got accredited by the higher education board over there. Such colleges, or degree factories exist in the UK, US, Canada and even Australia. Infact one registered University in Australia UCQ is given the label of a degree factory, because of their relatively low tuition fees etc. On Average most Australian universities have a per term fee of min 10,000, UCQ charges 3500$ per term. Its a registered and recognized university by the Australian Government, so local agents will recommend it. If some one recommends it to you, do not go for it, cause employers in Australia will not hire people from this university.Recommend

  • rida

    Education in Pakistan has now become quite a strange affair. People are now heading towards foreign education which is quite expensive and not under the financial reach of middle strata of the country. So, at the end, the middle class is left with local education, producing rot learners. Its a fact that our Authorities have failed to develop a uniform local education system.

    In this regard, a research website of an organization named rtipakistan.com has conducted a survey. That is authentic and opinion based. you can have a look at the report.

    http://rtipakistan.com/detail/1840 Recommend

  • Lusy

    Good information. Nice blog. Keep going on…Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/93/khurram-zahid/ Khurram Zahid

    Thank you guys for all your good comments. I always try to bring something that can help individuals at micro level eventually help masses at macro level.Recommend