Diploma and accreditation mills are becoming more popular among a wide group of people worldwide. In Europe, the scientific literature produced on this issue is still very limited, but the phenomenon, and the related debate are quite active. Another recent phenomenon is related to fraudulent documents and counterfeit qualifications: new instruments and tools available for free online give lots of possibilities to people that want to forge documents related to qualifications or that submit forged documents to credential evaluators (i.e. email spoofing, website spoofing, etc.).
In the framework of this project two concrete instruments were created for the benefit of credential evaluators in order to contribute to spreading good practices at international level against the two phenomena of diploma mills and of document fraud:
- a Guide on Diploma Mills: this instrument is created for the benefit of all credential evaluators worldwide. It presents the phenomenon of Diploma Mills starting from the national and international experience of the participating NARICs and it provides all the necessary elements in order to detect the institutions that claim to be recognised and all the practices they use to operate (i.e. accreditation mills and fake credential evaluation centres). The result is a highly innovative Guide for spotting diploma mills operating both in Europe and worldwide, with the aim of stimulating research at European level, which on this topic is still lagging behind. The project would also increase the collaboration between ENIC-NARIC centres in order to develop a common strategy to fight the phenomenon at global level.
- a Handbook on Document Fraud: this instrument is created for the benefit of ENIC-NARIC centres only. Thanks to this shared tool, the ENIC-NARIC centres are able to be conscious about this phenomenon and to develop innovative instruments and procedures to detect fraudulent qualifications. Real cases on counterfeit qualifications were collected and presented, analysing all the techniques and instruments used to create these, providing some concrete suggestions to tackle the phenomenon and to identify fraudulent documents.
The project, with the two different parts targets two main categories of groups:
- Credential Evaluators working at ENIC-NARIC centres: the Handbook on document fraud is a tool available exclusively for the ENICs and NARICs.
- Credential Evaluators working at universities, employers, ministries and other stakeholders receiving qualifications benefit from the research outcomes on Diploma and accreditation mills.
The project also aims at reaching national students associations, to increase students’ awareness on this issue, international associations of regulated professions, Quality Assurance agencies and networks worldwide.