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More than 30 fake universities have been shut down by the Government following a crackdown on worthless degrees, it has emerged.
 
However, the UK is powerless to act against roughly 80 per cent of offenders because they are based outside the country and cannot be prosecuted, according to Prospects, the graduate careers expert.
 
Last year, Prospects Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) was commissioned to reduce the number of unaccredited institutions by increasing prosecutions after a website in China was selling degree certificates from dozens of UK universities for £500 each.
 
As the project starts its second year, it will focus on dealing with offenders at a local level through international collaboration with the equivalent authorities overseas, HEDD said.
 
Degree fraud has become a serious concern in recent years with recent evidence showing there are 190  bogus universities offering fake degree certificates.
 
Tackling degree fraud
 
Jayne Rowley, director for Prospects HEDD said: “We’ve made incredible progress over the last year, developing a shutdown process with law enforcement agencies and making alliances overseas, so we’re in a good place to make a bigger impact on offenders based outside our legal system.
 
“With the onset of the internet and distance learning degree fraud is a borderless crime and we must collaborate with agencies around the world to deal with it.
 
"We also need to get people thinking more about prevention.
 
"We’ve developed free toolkits for higher education providers and employers to help them develop policies on tackling degree fraud.”
 
As part of the project Prospects has been raising awareness of degree fraud. Degree verification through HEDD has increased 16 per cent year-on-year.
 
More than 116,000 checks and a total of 220 bogus institutions have been officially identified since the service launched in 2011, figures showed.

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