UJ online system fights fake qualifications
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has introduced an online system that will enable graduates to access their qualifications digitally and for third-parties to verify certificates.
According to UJ, the Digital Certification and Virtual Verification system was introduced out of a need to increase security features relating to the certification process, to curb counterfeiting of certificates and enable students to easily replace lost or stolen certificates.
All historical and current certificates issued by the university will now be made available online, allowing students to share their credential qualifications with third-parties, through a secure online registration process.
Dr Tinus van Zyl, director of Central Academic Administration at UJ, explains: "Not only does this online system offer graduates access to their awarded certification credentials securely and electronically, but it also gives them access to share their qualification credentials for verification purposes with third-parties or prospective employers, at no cost to both parties.
"Key features incorporated into the new system are designed around international security standards and are compliant with legislation in terms of the protection of personal information. All certificates issued by UJ can be verified for authenticity through the system and record-holders can see who verified their certificates."
Once a third-party or a prospective employer requests to verify an awarded qualification, the certificate-holder must authorise the access online, notes UJ.
The system also offers key features which allow the ordering of lost or damaged certificates, the requesting of academic records or transcript supplements, an online payment portal and an optional delivery by courier (nationally or internationally).
Last year, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) introduced the digital Certificate of Evaluation, an electronic certificate issued to holders of valid qualifications which are obtained from other countries. The digital certificate aims to reduce the time it takes for foreign qualifications holders to receive the outcome of their qualification verification.
SAQA says in 2017 it recorded a total of 1 276 fake qualifications: 444 national and 832 foreign.
Many of these qualifications are counterfeit bachelors, masters, MBA and/or doctorate degrees that can be bought online and made available within 24 hours, it adds.
UJ registrar professor Kinta Burger pointed out the new digital certificate system aims to protect the reputation and integrity of the university.
"We are pleased to offer this service to our alumni and at the same time protect UJ's qualifications and reputation. There are stringent audit processes governing the authorisation and issuing of a certificate.
"The digital certificate system latches onto these processes to securely make a digital copy of the certificate available to the graduate on a secure UJ portal. So, if a person claims to have a qualification from UJ, this can be verified, instantly. We hope that third-parties and companies will use this verification service to prevent and deter the fraudulent use or misrepresentation of UJ qualifications."