The NY Times recently busted an empire of more than 370 so-called universities which were awarding fake degrees in exchange for greenbacks. The constituent pillars- which claimed to be universities- were subtly connected and run by a single mammoth self-styled software house in Karachi, Pakistan. The customers, believing themselves to be students, came from all parts of the world. Most of the universities purported to be based in USA. The authorities in Pakistan have arrested the self-styled emperor behind the shady empire. Whether he is found guilty or not is another debate, but one thing is for sure: there are thousands of fake universities operating over the internet. How could the prospective students know if they are dealing with a real, legit university that will add some real value to their resume? The following advices will help a great deal in this respect.
Go for Established Brands:
It might appear obvious at first, but it’s not. Name a few established brands (i.e. universities) that offer online education. 9 people out of ten wouldn’t be able to come up with one. They could be forgiven for this. Distance learning or online education is a complex, rather obscure mode of learning that does not attract much attention, which makes people all the more vulnerable to scammers. However, there are actually a few established, prestigious institutions of higher education that offer quality education. Here are a few names: University of Oxford, University of London, New York University. There are hundreds more. The key to spotting these universities is that nearly all of these were established at least decades ago. The University of London, for example, was established in the nineteenth century and its graduates include even Nobel Laureates. You should know that most of these institutions did not start five years ago and started offering online education overnight. Pardon me for saying this, but there is no entrepreneurship at play here. This is education.
Go for Places like Coursera, EDx:
Platforms like Coursera and EdX are recognized globally. Coursera, for example, offers programs from hundreds of universities. You can chose to get free education or pay for the cost of the certificate, but there is no ruse involved. The universities involved in sustaining Coursera lead the world in the realm of education. These platforms don’t offer courses from ‘Stanphord’ (instead of Stanford) University. You can trust these platforms blindly.
Smelling a Rat:
If you chose to go for any other university, do this: Go through a reliable ranking of universities like USNEWS, THES or The Economist’s ranking. See if the university is listed there or not. If not, it’s best to leave it alone. However, if you do find the university listed in the ranking make sure that it’s spelled exactly the same on its own website as on the ranking list. Don’t go for ‘Hairward’ instead of ‘Harvard’. Lastly, the inclusion of the word ‘international’ does NOT make any ranking or accrediting body reliable.
A final word of advice: If any university shows willingness, initially or later on, to award you the certification without having studied for a specific duration of time, skip it.