Phoney Degrees and Diplomas: Serial Numbers Could Conquer Dilemma

I’m catching up on Freakonomics podcasts, and was just listening to the first of two parts on the plague of phoney college degrees, with the chilling statistic that in the U.S. alone about 13,000 fake degrees are purchased each year, many which appear to be from legitimate institutions.

There’s a simple solution – serial numbers:

  1. every accredited achievement from an institution is associated with a serial number
  2. this serial number is printed on the document of graduation and all transcripts
  3. this serial number is stored in a database managed by the institution
  4. the database is publicly accessible, so employers and other institutions can verify the serial number’s validity.

This is a low-cost, easily-implemented solution, and it gives the institution a reliable way to sustain their reputation (and the value of their brand), while giving the employer a swift and simple way to verify credentials.

Serial numbers have been used for years to combat fraud, because they work – as long as they are not generated and verified by algorithm alone. But this is another discussion…

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