University graduates database set up in war on fake certificates

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Employers will soon be able to access academic information on graduates from a State agency as the government races to curb the use of fake certificates in securing jobs.

The Kenya National Qualifications Authority has started a database that will have information on graduates from all levels of education.

The universities regulator has raised the alarm over increased use of fake degrees to secure employment in an economy with a shortage of openings in the job market.

Bonaventure Kerre, the authority’s chairman, said the measures are aimed at protecting the credibility of certificates that graduates get from learning institutions in the country.

“We will have a registry for all disciplines and qualifications, institutions will have two years to comply with it,” said Prof Kerre in an interview.

He observed that Kenya lagged other East African countries in building a one-stop qualification registry.

“We will be very keen on credit hours. One academic year is supposed to have 120 hours and all institutions must stick to it. We will not entertain a situation where a diploma takes six months while another diploma takes three year,” added Prof Kerre.

The Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) has in the past raised concerns over the quality of graduates, arguing that entry-level workers lack relevant skills. This comes amid reports of higher learning institutions engaging in academic malpractices.

From selling certificates to “cleaning” of degrees, the institutions are riddled with corruption and greed.

Some dish out certificates without requiring one to step into a classroom while others engage in “cleaning” degrees where students with weaker grades have their marks enhanced while others transfer to other institutions  to strengthen their grades within a short period.

Fraudulent websites masquerading as genuine degree-awarding institutions will also be nabbed.

In the UK, more than 190 bogus universities offering fake degree certificates were unearthed last year.

The Commission for University Education (CUE) said fraud was a threat to the sanctity of higher education.

“If this menace is not contained it will continue to affect the reputation of credible institutions,” warned CUE chief executive David Some.