Friday, July 23, 1999 Published at 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK
Legal move over 'mail order degrees'
Genuine Scottish degrees take four years to obtain
Scottish university officials are hoping legal action will stop an English businessman who is reportedly selling fake degrees for £70.
Newspaper and magazine adverts have been offering "impressive certificates" by mail order from Liverpool.
Now the Committee of Scottish Higher Education Principals (Coshep) and university heads are hoping legal action will stop the businessman.
"I'm principally concerned because employers and the public are being told that people who hold these fake degrees have got knowledge and skills they don't have," said Stirling University Vice Chancellor Andrew Miller.
"It's very unfair on students who've put in a lot of work to obtain their real degrees.
"The universities have pressure on them to maintain quality and standards of education and it's very unfortunate if that's being faked."
"These degrees are not only disreputable and useless, but they're also illegal," said Coshep's Jane Denholm.
"We're concerned for all the students who have worked hard and achieved genuine degrees this June and we'll be taking legal action against this company."
Scottish students are required to study for four years to obtain a degree and news that fakes are being peddled by post has angered many of them.
The Press and Journal newspaper in Aberdeen reports that the businessman promised to supply other certificates in addition to degrees.
These included HND, City and Guilds, GCSE, A-Levels, teacher-training certificates and sports awards at between £30 and £60 each.
The P&J responded to one of the adverts and was allegedly told: "The finished product is to a realistic high standard, complete with stamp and seal."
The Scotland Office said it was an offence to use a bogus degree and it was looking at how to clamp down on the trade.
A spokeswoman for the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP) said the matter had been referred to it, and it had written to ask Liverpool Trading Standards to investigate.
A trading standards spokesman in Liverpool said there were a number of ways proceedings could be taken against the businessman.
They could either start in the area in which he operates his business, or in an area where he has attempted to sell his merchandise.