Fake university degrees website under investigation

image captionThe Chinese website offers fake degree certificates for a number of UK universities

A government body is investigating a website in China selling fake degree certificates from many UK universities.

It follows an investigation by BBC Radio Kent which found the certificates for sale on the internet for £500.

Posing as a customer, reporters found a website offering certificates from dozens of UK institutions, including the universities of Kent and Surrey.

The Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) said it hoped Chinese authorities would shut the site.

The website, investigated in December, said the fake degree certificates were for "novelty purposes, or as a replacement for lost diplomas".

But the University of Kent said students worked hard to gain their degrees at UK universities and it was very worrying.

'Breaking law'

HEDD, which is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, verifies degrees issued by 22 universities including the universities of Surrey and Sussex.

Spokeswoman Jane Rowley said it had discovered the Chinese website offered fake certificates for universities in China and the US as well as the UK.

"They are breaking the law in a number of countries," she said.

"We have been in contact with colleagues at the Ministry of Education in China to ask if they are able to act.

"They do have an agency responsible for this in China and they are going to investigate further so they should be able to shut down the website."

image captionThe University of Kent certificate was being offered for sale for £500

Ms Rowley said degree fraud damaged the reputation of higher education institutions.

"These days graduates will be coming out with a debt of over £40,000," she said.

"We want to protect our young graduates in the workplace to make sure they are not being denied opportunities to work by people who have not done the work or made that kind of financial investment."

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