Diploma mills sell diplomas to individuals who have not completed a course of study. These diplomas are worthless and not recognised by any accreditation body. Diplomas issued by diploma mills look like authentic diplomas. It is difficult to tell the difference.
Usually issued in English
A wide range of diplomas are offered for sale online. Most are issued in English as Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science or PhD degrees. A person simply chooses a diploma, pays the fee and receives the document a few days later.
How to spot a diploma mill
Are you considering becoming associated with an educational institution? Or are you not sure that a candidate’s diploma is authentic? It is often possible to tell from the website of the institution. The following signs may mean that you are dealing with a diploma mill:
- The institution does not have a street address. There is only a PO Box or suite number.
- The telephone number connects to a call centre or an answering machine, or is redirected to a mobile phone.
- An example of a diploma is shown on the website.
- The institution offers ‘non-traditional education’ or ‘distance learning’ and assigns credits for relevant life and career experience.
- The institution claims to be accredited by a state in the United States, a small island state or a country with little government regulation of higher education.
- There is no information about faculties, staff or study programmes on the website.
- The diploma can be tailored to requirements.
- Payment card logos are displayed on the website.
- The name of the institution is confusingly similar to that of a well-known university, such as Columbia State University (rather than Columbia University), Cambridge International University (rather than Cambridge University) or Trinity College and University (rather than Trinity College).
Fraudulent certificates of Recognised Prior Learning
In the Netherlands recognition of previously acquired competencies (EVC) may result in the awarding of a certificate of Recognised Prior Learning. There are companies that offer to assist with RPL procedures in other countries. However, if you take them up on their offer, you will pay a lot of money for a worthless document. An accredited certificate of Recognised Prior Learning can only be obtained from a certified RPL practitioner listed in the EVC register. You can find more information at nationaal-kenniscentrum-evc.nl.
If you have questions about the status of an institution or study programme or wish to check the authenticity of a diploma or university degree, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive a response within 48 hours on working days.