(MENAFN - Arab News) The Ministry of Higher Education has uncovered 110 offices selling forged degrees from non-Saudi universities, press reports said yesterday.
"The agencies were supplying these bogus degrees for the past several years," said Muhammad Al-Ouhali, undersecretary at the Ministry of Higher Education for academic matters.
The degrees supplied by the swindling agencies are not authentic or approved by any official body. Fake degrees are also being supplied by some institutions that run courses without fulfilling the approved standards, Al-Madinah newspaper reported.
The ministry has taken steps to identity the agencies that supply forged degrees, the official said.
"The ministry has set up a special department to crack down on the issuance of false degrees. The department can verify the authenticity of any degree by contacting the institution that purportedly issued the document. The names of those holding forged degrees will not be found in any university register," Al-Ouhali said. He added the number of forged degrees was not high compared to the number of agencies supplying such certificates in various parts of the world.
The ministry had discovered 569 fake degrees in engineering, 326 in nursing and 306 in pharmacology. Private sector employees held 742 bogus degrees, while 331 were found in the government sector.
The Saudi Commission for Health Specialties recently announced it was able to detect 155 fake certificates in the past five months alone. So far it has discovered 1,075 fake health certificates. The commission has also rejected another 1,700 certificates because of suspicions about their authenticity. It also denied permission for 15,202 people with suspect academic backgrounds to practice in the medical field.
Prices for a fake bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree range from SR10,000 to SR30,000 and in some cases the price of doctorate degree goes up to SR90,000.
The issuance of fake degrees is a universal issue. In the United States alone 100,000 fake degrees are sold annually according to media reports in 2010.
The Internet has made it easier than ever to canvass candidates for bogus certification. An agent supplying fake degrees needs only to create a website that looks like it belongs to a genuine university. The site would provide online payment options for customers as well as details for prospective employers who might contact them to verify whether a degree is genuine or not, according to US media reports.
It is also reported that fake degree markets thrive in India and Egypt. There have also been cases in which a student was not aware he was taking a bogus degree.