Combating Qualification & Academic Fraud Summit 2013 – Johannesburg 18-20 September 2013

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3 days in a very hot Johannesburg with attendees from agencies, institutions and companies from across Africa – South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, Mozambique, Swaziland, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, to name just a few…

Day 1. Starting off, very much about the problems, not the solutions.

Sebastin Charidza/Zimbabwe School Examinations System. Understanding the Trends of Academic & Qualification Fraud – the African Experience. Qualifications are so important that it’s a matter of qualifications by any means necessary. Under investment in systems & development. Insecure printing. Some electronic marking – less effective at detecting malpractice. Certificates & after sales service <where DARE – Digital Academic Records Exchange – & HEDD – Higher Education Degree Datacheck – come in>. How do you make your certificates tamper proof? Liberation style silence – telling on someone doing wrong is itself wrong.

Mike Hill/Graduate Prospects. Degree Fraud – A European Experience. UK = European capital for bogus institutions. More key now students pay – protects investment of genuine graduates. HEDD (Higher Education Degree Datacheck) = UK solution for online institution & qualifivation verification.

Rosh Maharaj/PC Training & Business College, South Africa. Cross Border Education & Fraud. Refs distance education/e-learning. Major plagiarism problem with PhDs. Parents will do anything to get children qualifications, especially overseas – BAMN. What are students actually doing with their mobiles? <What are students actually doing without their mobiles?> Most anti-social device ever invented. IT solutions – what about hacking? <but more secure than on paper?> Polluting labour market. Overseas qualifications seen as tickets to cross border transnational mobility & labour markets in industrialised countries. E-learning/technology/distance learning introduce new cheating opportunities. Systems with high levels of coursework provide opportunities. Cheating undermines the value of assessment data as an indicator of student learning.

Overall, great start off group of presentations.

Shariffa Miller/CEO Khulisa Business Consulting. Detection & Investigation of Academic & Qualification Fraud. Run through of what to look for in document fraud detection. Use of policies & procedures. National legislative frameworks can help – SAQA etc. Diploma mills proliferating globally.

SF Nyathi/University of Namibia. Academic Fraud, Quality Assurance & Accreditation Regulation. Major springboard for fraud = developments in IT <so solution = developments in IT then?> Clear definitions of academic fraud. The internet is now the leading vehicle for academic fraud <like the internet is the leading vehicle for everything else information based = leading vehicle for information fraud>. Simply, makes it easier. Possible approach to solution: more formative, less summative assessment; alternative approaches to assessment. Strategies: development of reliable information systems listing accredited HE institutions etc <HEDD again> very important ref internationalisation, information on accredited institutions by nation. Academic fraud serves to produce functionally illiterate workforce – gap between education & certification.

Followed by interesting discussion – hard to track who said what – one interesting thought in relation to work going on to combat plagiarism & credentials fraud as they are currently surfaced, referenced to MOOCs etc (fairly close paraphrase I hope): ‘…we may be trying to create solutions for a future that won’t exist’. <Interesting that sychronises with BBC item about FutureLearn, UK HE MOOCs collaboration>

Sunil Kumar Burra. Academic Integrity & Online Resources for Faculty Development. Definitions again. Lots of definitions…Global problem. Potential of internet. Green! Basically, the internet is a major part of both the problem & the solution.

Day 2.

Claudia Naidoo-van der Merwe/MIE Background Screening. Analysing the Benefits of Qualification Verification in Curbing Academic & Qualification Fraud for Recruiters. MIE (Managed Integrity Evaluation) Owners & operators of the National Qualifications Register (NQR) – holds qualifications for biggest South African institutions. 3.1 million qualification records, 30 HEIs – largest in southern hemisphere. Fully integrated with institutions – mirror images of databases. Empowering emerging economies with sophisticated tools. Launching African Qualifications Register (AQR). 14% of CVs ‘contain risk’ – occurrence increases in recessionary times. Fully automated electronic verification services greatly reduce risk. <How will this be affected by new South African Data Protection laws?> Asked the question – planning to be fully compliant with new laws, consent of all parties central to services. How does it work – upload spreadsheet of qualifications data. Generally 2 week turnaround time. Check that institution is legitimate & that student did obtain the qualification – whether the award itself is accredited/legitimate etc is handled by eg SAQA. Can go as far back as institutions are able to provide electronic records.

Joe Samuels/SAQA. The Role of SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) in Combating Fraudulent Qualifications. What is a legal qualification in South Africa? Accredited & registered provider; registered qualification – on national qualification framework; authentic documentation. Also: is the person presenting the document who they say they are? Figures: 11.8 million learner qualification achievements on database. 19,713 accredited providers. Data must be submitted to SAQA. Low levels of fraud in verifications made with SAQA – around 1%, zero in relation to foreign qualifications – as against 14% with MIE – why is this? Shift from paper orientation to paper/electronic verifications – must have both! Groningen Declaration on promoting global student data mobility – SAQA = signatory as digital student data depository for South Africa – must link with other countries.

Alwyn Hoffman/NorthWest University. Protecting the Integrity of the Educational System Through the Authentication of Training Certificates. Digital signatures initiative – funded under government THRIP (Technology & Human Resources) Programme. Problem: physical documents are easy to modify. So – using PKI infrastructure. Size of conventional cryptographic keys problematic for small electronic data carriers – so using Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) instead of RSA. Have produced digital signature small enough to fit on QR code or RFID tag to enable verification of offline paper documents. Smartphone = logical choice for verification. Have developed complete prototype.

Again, very interesting sessions & good to see what’s happening over here in the same arena as DARE/the HEDD & similar initiatives in other countries.

& that’s about it for today – & tomorrow is for me & Paul Naylor from Graduate Prospects to deliver our workshop on DARE, the HEDD etc. – so multitasking won’t stretch to blogging whilst that’s in progress. & then it’ll be goodbye Johannesburg, back to the airport & home.

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