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ERIC Number: EJ851068
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 6
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0889
Verification of the Integrity and Legitimacy of Academic Credential Documents in an International Setting
Gollin, George D.
College and University, v84 n4 p75, 78-81 Spr 2009
The global demand for higher education currently exceeds the world's existing university capacity. This shortfall is likely to persist for the foreseeable future, raising concerns that frustrated students might choose to purchase fraudulent credentials from counterfeiters or diploma mills. International efforts to encourage the development of reliable, authoritative lists of recognized universities are currently underway. An employer might use such lists and related databases to determine the legitimacy of a school attended by a prospective employee. An additional approach to credential authentication is possible in which degree verification is performed automatically using the same information security tools that permit secure financial transactions to proceed over open communication networks. It is possible that the development of reliable databases (which require active engagement in order to be useful) in combination with a widely adopted standard for self-authenticating academic documents could drive nearly all counterfeiters and diploma mills out of business. Public-key cryptography can provide a technical solution to the problem of authenticating academic documents such as transcripts and diplomas. When combined with an appropriate system to manage universities' public keys (so that only legitimate universities are issued keys by a "certificate authority"), it becomes possible to determine whether a document is genuine or counterfeit, and also whether or not it was issued by a legitimate postsecondary institution rather than a diploma mill. Interesting lessons can be learned from the history of efforts to suppress fraud in financial transactions. After discussing these, the author describes a model for the generation of secure, verifiable diplomas and transcripts. (Contains 7 footnotes.)
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). One Dupont Circle NW Suite 520, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-293-9161; Fax: 202-872-8857; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A