Bogus Institutions

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of queries  from individuals, recognition bodies and accrediting agencies concerning dubious providers of higher education that use UNESCO’s name or logo to give the impression that they are recognized providers of higher education.

UNESCO is an intergovernmental body. It does not have the mandate to accredit nor to recognise higher education institutions, programmes, diplomas or accrediting agencies. Any provider of higher education or accrediting agency which claims or gives the impression of being accredited and/or recognized by UNESCO should be looked upon with caution. Such institutions or accrediting agencies may use different fraudulent modes.  Beware of:

  • Institutions offering/delivering fake diplomas which feature UNESCO’s logo;
  • Institutions claiming that one may contact UNESCO to have its accreditation confirmed;
  • Institutions stating to be listed in a so-called “UNESCO Higher Education Institutions Registry”, which does not exist in reality;
  • Institutions claiming to promote the values and ideals of UNESCO; e.g.; “the Educational Creed of UNESCO”, or the WCHE recommendations, etc.;
  • Institutions inserting UNESCO’s name in their URL address to give the impression of an official link;
  • Institutions claiming to be recognised by UNESCO because they are hosting a UNESCO chair; and
  • False claims by Bogus institutions that are linked to NGOs affiliated with UNESCO.

In case of doubt, check with the competent relevant higher education body in the country of the institution.

Link:  UNESCO Portal to Recognized Higher Education Institutions

Bogus institutions of higher education (degree-mills) and accreditation agencies

There exist both bogus institutions (degree-mills or institutions that are unaccredited) and bogus accreditation agencies (accreditation-mills and unaccredited accrediting agencies). There is no complete list of either as they appear fast and beyond the control of any government. . Below is a list of useful websites provided by governments, organisations and private persons that provide alerts about bogus institutions and agencies and tips on how to recognize and track them down. .

A small group of higher education, accreditation and quality assurance and credential evaluation experts came together in 2008 to explore the challenge and problem of “degree mills” or bogus providers of higher education, particularly as these operations affect the growing internationalization of higher education. Seeking to stimulate an international dialogue, the group developed a series of suggestions for effective practice in this area. The statement that emerged is intended for academic staff and administrators, accreditation and quality assurance professionals, credential evaluators, national governments and international organizations concerned with quality in highereducation in an international setting. It is also intended to guide students, particularly from developing countries, in seeking opportunities for international education.

This statement serves as a companion to the recent UNESCO/OECD document, Guidelines for Quality Provision in Cross-Border Higher Education, released in 2005. Consistent with the Guidelines, the statement urges that governments around the world examine their legal and regulatory frameworks with the goal of eliminating degree mills in the future. It also is a resource for users of the UNESCO Portal on Higher Education Institutions

Back to top