(Washington, DC) – The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have developed a series of suggestions for ways to discourage and eventually eliminate degree mills in countries around the world. These suggestions are contained in a joint statement titled “Toward Effective Practice: Discouraging Degree Mills in Higher Education.”
“We want to assist the international community in confronting degree mills,” said CHEA President Judith Eaton. “It will take all of us – higher education, accreditation, credential evaluators, government and business – to address the challenge posed by these rogue operations.”
“The goal of this statement by CHEA and UNESCO is to promote an international dialogue and encourage the adoption of effective practice to combat degree mills,” noted Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić, Chief of UNESCO’s Section for Reform, Innovation and Quality Assurance in Higher Education.
CHEA and UNESCO held meetings in Washington, D.C. and Paris, France to address the issue of degree mills. Representatives from the higher education community, accrediting bodies, associations, government and the business world took part in the meetings, including participants from Australia, Canada, China, France, Ghana, Japan, Nigeria, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Suggested actions to combat degree mills include:
- Create tools for the identification of degree mills.
- Use evidence of quality provided by acknowledged competent authorities on academic quality such as recognized accreditation and quality assurance bodies.
- Encourage providers of public and private funding for higher education to avoid funding of degree mills and their students.
- Inform the public about degree mills.
- Pursue legal action against degree mills and use of fraudulent credentials.
- Focus on cross-border degree mill operation.
CHEA and UNESCO also offer Web-based resources to help governments and students identify reliable higher education institutions and programs. CHEA maintains a comprehensive Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Organizations, listing more than 7,600 accredited degree-granting and non-degree-granting institutions and more than 18,700 accredited programs. UNESCO has established a Portal on Higher Education Institutions that provides access to higher education institutions sanctioned either by government or by other competent authorities and general information about higher education, accreditation, quality assurance and related subjects in various countries.
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A national advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation, CHEA is an association of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations. For more information, visit CHEA’s Website at www.chea.org.