The Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) has warned against fake websites offering degrees that do not require class attendance or examinations.
Earning a doctorate has become as easy as ordering a pair of shoes online, with websites claiming to offer accredited and approved degrees in various fields within 15 days for a fee as low as $199 (Dh731).
These websites offer the degrees without the need to attend classes or face examinations; instead they claim to give you the degree based on life and work experience.
One of these websites, www.uaeeducationhub.com, which claims to be attested by DIAC, was established one month ago by another website, which has also been offering questionable degrees for the past 13 years, to target UAE students.
Posing as a student, Gulf News registered online for a degree and, within an hour, there was a call from an American phone number from Delaware. The caller claimed to be a professor from Rellington University.
“We offer conversion degrees, where our expert panel reviews and analyses your total years of work experience. You don’t have to take any examination or attend classes,” the caller said.
The website says that if you have three years of work experience you would qualify for a bachelors degree, if you have four, you will qualify for a Master’s degree and if you have six you qualify for a Doctorate.
When asked how Rellington University received this writer’s contact details, the professor said through an application on www.graduateinminutes.com. When he was told that the application was not applied for through that website and was applied for through www.uaeeducationhub.com, he said the two were connected and they shared the same database.
The professor and the website claimed that the degree was approved by DIAC as well as other international bodies.
A quick check revealed that the school in question is not listed, nor approved by DIAC. “No, this website does not belong to DIAC. It is not affiliated with any of our universities and we has no relationship with this organisation. This website does not have permission to refer to DIAC and we plan to take action to rectify this situation,” said Dr Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director of DIAC and Dubai Knowledge Village.
He said the website was referred to the legal department which is dealing with it directly to remove reference to DIAC and close it down. He also said this was not the first time that the DIAC logo and its universities were used without permission, which is why they monitor the situation closely.
“We are working with regulators, including Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), to investigate each false websites to remove any claims being made about DIAC, or any of our universities. All breaches of copyright, trademark legislation or falsification of facts have been reported to the authorities for corrective actions.”
Dr Kazim advised any student looking to pursue higher education to visit the DIAC or KHDA websites to confirm that the university or courses offered are official.
Mohammad Darwish, Chief of Regulations and Permit Commission (RPC) of KHDA, also commented on the issue saying: “We advise all students to check if their university is permitted by KHDA before enrolling in a course in Dubai. All information is available through our website and smart applications. If a student is still unsure, they can contact KHDA directly with queries.”
Gulf News found that Rellington University was not on the list of accredited foreign online universities issued by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.