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Educational institutions gear up to deal with fake certificate menace

With industry estimates pointing to a 30-35 per cent rise year-on-year in the number of fake certificates in circulation, educational institutes have now begun to engage with niche firms to end this menace.

The head of admissions and certifications at a large Tamil Nadu-based university explained that since internal officials were found to be involved in the racket of issuing fake certificates in some cases, external technology solutions are being looked into.

“In the end, the university’s name and reputation come under the scanner if fake certificate rackets are busted. Hence, we are in discussions with both, Indian and international players to ensure that certificates become impossible to be duplicated, though this may be a costly affair,” he said.

N Subramanian, CEO and managing director, TRS Forms and Services said that they have introduced a technology known as “eSekure” which not only helps to create 100 per cent tamper-proof documents like degree certificates and statements of marks but also stores the data in a non-replicable, encrypted security mark. This can be verified by users automatically at any time through a web portal without any access to a database for fetching the data.

Subramanian said institutes like Chennai’s Anna University, Tirunelveli’s MSU University, Hubli’s Law University had adopted their technology to deal with forged certificates. “These universities have adopted this technology recently (within the last one year). We are in touch with a few more universities, professional institutes and school boards on this,” he said.

He added that by introducing this technology, the universities would be saving a minimum of 30 per cent and a maximum of 50 per cent on the cost of a certificate, since presently they spend heavily on security paper. eSekure offers a security mark, which stores data. This mark, generated by the issuing authority, is printed on the document. To verify data, the mark is scanned to decrypt, decode and display the data stored. This is done through the eSekure browser-based platform. Here, security marks can be printed on ordinary paper or electronically and are unique to each document.

HR experts said that while employers are now doing a double-check on the certificates provided by candidates at the time of interviews, stronger background checks are also being done. If a candidate is found indulging in these practices, he/she is blacklisted and the same information is passed on to the respective educational institute.

Further, some organisations request candidates to mandatorily provide references to their college professors, so that the authenticity of their degree and academic performance can be verified.

Rackets operate across the country offering fake certificates. Based on the kind of qualification required, prices range from Rs 15,000 up to Rs 1 lakh a certificate. These rackets are estimated to have a revenue of Rs 50- 80 crore annually, say education consultants. A fake certificate is created using information from genuine certificates issued by universities concerned that these rackets source through touts and unauthorised means. Some of the large universities and institutes have mechanisms, including tamper proof emblem/mark, to ensure that their certificates cannot be duplicated. However, others are still in the process of implementing such technology.

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