UK firm fights South African degree fraud

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 06 Mar 2024
Kevin Bassett, MD of AST, and Martin Hall, non-executive director of AST Cape Town.
Kevin Bassett, MD of AST, and Martin Hall, non-executive director of AST Cape Town.

UK-based Advanced Secure Technologies (AST), which provides digital certification verification, is opening a Cape Town office.

It says the move aims to address the growing problem of academic degree fraud in South Africa.

The company’s Digital Certificates Websecurity platform uses blockchain, QR codes and watermarks for secure issuance, management and verification of educational certificates.

It allows students and graduates to control the sharing of their verified credentials, while employers and other organisations can authenticate qualifications.

The platform also ensures only qualified candidates are recognised, reducing the risk of degree fraud.

“Having an office in Cape Town allows us to quickly respond to any issues in Southern Africa's important market,” says Kevin Bassett, MD of AST. “This is especially crucial given the prevalence of degree fraud in South Africa.”

The company has partnerships with South African universities, including the University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria and Northwest University.

Martin Hall, former deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, will take up the position of non-executive director at the new office.

“Degree fraud damages the value of legitimate qualifications,” Hall comments.

“AST isn’t just about technology – it's about protecting the integrity of education for students, employers and institutions. With the rise of technologies such as artificial intelligence, their work is more important than ever.”

High-profile cases of degree fraud have recently made headlines in SA. These include an economist allegedly falsely claiming a PhD from the London School of Economics, and a former Joburg Roads Agency CEO exposed for allegedly fabricating undergraduate and master's degrees, leading to his suspension and loss of a R3.5 million annual salary.