In the News: The Detriment of Fake Degrees to Society

In this week’s blog post, I want to highlight a worthy opinion published in the Gulf News by Dr. Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi

Dr. Al-Suwaidi is a Nobel Prize nominated intellectual leader based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) whose most recent opinion piece lamented the problem of fake degrees in the Gulf region. Dr. Al-Swaidi accurately notes that the proliferation of fake degrees “reflects a serious moral crisis” created, in part, by the obsession that a degree (rather than experience and competency) is considered the only pathway to personal and professional successes. The good doctor ends his opinion piece with a call for others to join him in a “campaign against this epidemic”.  

I have stated before in my writings on contract cheating that if it is left unaddressed, it has the potential to turn all of our otherwise legitimate educational institutions into diploma mills. In other words, those of us in accredited institutions will be the ones issuing the fake degrees that Dr. Al-Swaidi warns us against. So, the issue of fake degrees is related to contract cheating – in fact, one could argue that securing a fake degree is the climax of contract cheating. So we must not fool ourselves – while Dr. Al-Swaidi is talking about the extent of the problem in the Gulf region, we have heard in the news about the prevalence of the disease across multiple regions throughout the world including in India, Kenya, LebanonMalaysia, Ukraine, and the United States of America. So, this is not a “cultural”, regional, or otherwise isolated problem. This is a problem with the over commercialization of higher education where the grades and degrees have gained more value than the underlying education, skills and knowledge they were invented to represent.

I hear Dr. Al-Swaidi’s call for a “campaign against this epidemic” and I repeat that call for others to join in. A good place to start is our 4th International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating this October 16th, 2019. Please join us.

About the Author
Tricia Bertram Gallant, Ph.D. is the author of Academic Integrity in the Twenty-First Century: A Teaching and Learning Imperative (Jossey-Bass, 2008), co-author of Cheating in School: What We Know and What We Can Do (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), editor of Creating the Ethical Academy: A Systems Approach to Understanding Misconduct & Empowering Change in Higher Education (Routledge, 2011), and section editor for the Handbook of Academic Integrity (Springer, 2016). She is the Director of the UC San Diego Academic Integrity Office and Board Member of the International Center for Academic Integrity, and has been an ethics lecturer with the Rady School of Management. When Tricia blogs, the content is hers and should not be attributed to her employer or ICAI.
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