Some institutions knowingly offer substandard programs leading to degrees or other credentials that cost a lot of money but are worth little or nothing in academia or the employment market. In some cases, a student will be required to do no work at all – just pay a fee and receive a degree or diploma. These institutions are sometimes known as degree mills or diploma mills.
The following information about degree mills or diploma mills is taken from the joint Council of Higher Education of America and UNESCO 2009 document entitled: Toward Effective Practice: Discouraging Degree Mills in Higher Education.
A "degree mill" or "diploma mill" may be characterized by:
- The business "… offers a credential purely in exchange for payment and nothing else."
- Money – and only money – is sufficient to obtain a credential at any level and in almost any area of study.
- When the business practice is accurately described by some or all of the following:
- Lacks legal authority to operate as higher education institution or to award degrees;
- Requires little if any attendance, either on-site or online;
- Requires little if any coursework or few if any assignments to obtain a credential;
- Does not provide information about location of incorporation, ownership or governance;
- Provides little or no contact information other than a telephone number or email address;
- Publishes false or exaggerated claims of external quality review (accreditation or quality assurance);
- Issues credentials that are not accepted for licensing;
- Allows entry into graduate or professional programs in the degree/diploma mill's home country;
- Lists academic staff whose degrees were issued by degree mills or are unable to provide verifiable lists of academic staff and their qualifications;
- Plagiarizes material from legitimate institutions for inclusion on degree/diploma mill websites; and/or
- Features websites with Internet domain registration that is obscured by a privacy service rather than being publicly accessible.
Any one of the descriptors above should be cause for concern.
How Do Degree/Diploma Mills Harm or Impact You?
(Adapted from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education)
- If you obtain credentials from a non-accredited institution, you may not qualify for certification or employment in your chosen field. Check carefully before choosing an institution to obtain your higher education!
- If you make a monetary investment in your child's education, it may prove to be money down the drain if he/she does not receive the level of education and training you expected and cannot get a job because of the sub-standard credentials received. Check carefully before investing in your child's future!
- If you hire someone who uses fake, fraudulent credentials to qualify for employment, your business may be at risk for liabilities and the economy and labour market are negatively impacted. Check carefully for credentials of merit before hiring.
If you have any questions about an institution offering programs in Saskatchewan, please contact the SHEQAB Secretariat by phone 306-787-1782 or email firstname.lastname@example.org