ANU agitates for national database to stop credential fraud and reputation damage

ANU Deputy Vice Chancellor Marnie Hughes-Warrington. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe Australian National University has called for a national database to stop graduates from committing credential fraud while seeking employment or further study.

The university’s deputy vice chancellor Marnie Hughes-Warrington said the proposal was supported by the country’s top universities and would be discussed at a national conference in Canberra this week.

“The project will help fight fraud, will allow third parties to search and verify academic documents and allows students to add a secure link to their qualifications from anywhere in the world,” she said.

Ms Hughes-Warrington said the university was “a strong supporter” of the initiative proposed by Universities Australia, which has also garnered support from 18 other institutions.

Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, said it was “vitally important that anyone who says that they have a degree actually holds that degree”.

She said the database would ensure “those individuals who seek to dishonestly represent their past academic performance are prevented from doing so”.

“We must ensure that the integrity of Australia’s higher education qualifications are protected,” she said.

According to Universities Australia, the project is expected to launch by next year and will eventually include academic transcripts from New Zealand, China, the US and the UK.

The proposal has also been welcomed by recruitment agencies that have reported candidates lying about their previous salary, grades and experience.

Jim Roy, regional director of Hays in Canberra, said a national database would assist employers in their search for talent given “instances of people making occasional embellishments in their CV”.

“Employers want to ensure they employ the most suitable candidate, capable of performing the duties and responsibilities of the role,” he said.

“So from this perspective a national database would also help an employer confirm that they employ a person who has attained the necessary qualifications.”

Ms Hughes-Warrington said the ANU had already introduced measures to reduce academic fraud, such as an online service hosted by the university that enables recruiters and employers to verify documents.

“In addition the university also provides back to source authentication checking whereby we will verify upon request that a particular degree, diploma or certificate has been conferred upon an individual by the university,” she said.

“The university also has a publicly available website that can be used to search for graduates of ANU to verify the award conferred, and the date that it was conferred.”

The national database is aligned with the Groningen Declaration, an international group of university representatives hoping to increase the academic and professional mobility of students.

Anthony McClaren, chief executive of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, welcomed the database and the collaboration between universities.

“Integrity in credentials and certification of qualifications is of vital importance to students, providers and employers,” he said.

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