08 September 2003
A local security agency, commissioned by a company to check the credentials of an employer, has unearthed the International Association of Fake Universities, a website where a qualification is just a click of the mouse away. On the site, an MBA in oceanography, or other more obscure topics, can be bought from a number of institutions, such as Exterior Latex University, Don Juan Institute, Foreplay University, Flatulence University, Hotcakes College, Nutcase School for Social Research, Our Lady of Britney Spears University and Pappy Went Here College.

Fake qualifications in the public and private sectors are costing the economy millions of rands annually, says a senior academic at the University of South Africa (UNISA). According to the MIE Resource Services, South Africa's oldest and largest credentials verification company, their statistics show that about 18% of the workforce had lied about their qualifications to some extent.

NNAMDI Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) in Nigeria has been shut by the authorities following rioting by students on July 21 this year. The students were said to have embarked on the demonstration to protest increases in their school fees.

Ugandan Toro queen mother Best Kemigisa has objected to renting out Mucwa, the kingdom's administrative headquarters, to the country's Mountains of the Moon University (MMU). The comments follow an attempt to evict the Kabarole district administration for "non-payment of rent" and bring in MMU as new tenants.

In a case that has drawn the attention of evangelical Christians, a graduate student at the Harvard Divinity School has been convicted of trying to smuggle tens of thousands of dollars past Russian customs officers, in a case that cites attempted extortion, falsified evidence and disregard for due process.

Australian education minister Brendan Nelson said that the way in which the University of Newcastle had handled a plagiarism scandal could jeopardize the country's lucrative status as a credible provider of higher education to students from foreign countries. The scandal erupted in March when it was revealed by a local newspaper that 15 Malaysia-based students had been given passing grades even though their instructor had failed them for what he described as "blatant and serious plagiarism" in their papers.

In Italy, police officers have gathered evidence and made arrests in a case of an alleged exam-selling ring at Rome's La Saienza University, which is the largest university in Europe.

Both the Rand Afrikaans University and the Technikon Witwatersrand have suggested University of Johannesburg as their new name, when the two institutions merge at the beginning of 2005. The name, suggested by the RAU and TWR councils, was submitted to the Minister of Education, Dr Kader Asmal at the end of August for his approval.

Sources: Independent Online,, The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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