Imprisoned for fake diplomas

Fake diplomas are causing a major headache at the University of Oslo and BI School of Management

Fake diplomas are causing a major headache at the University of Oslo and the BI Norwegian School of Management. Photo: Universitas

The University of Oslo and BI Norwegian School of Management have so far this year reported at least three cases of diploma forgery. The universities fear higher numbers, while they struggle to interpret the legal system.

The Oslo police has so far this year investigated three reports on fake diplomas: One from the university and two from BI. One of the cases has been dropped, in another case an indictment has been preferred and sent to court, and in the last one the defendant was sentenced to 15 days of immediate imprisonment.

All of the three cases concern foreign citizens and one of the cases is about the forging of a Norwegian diploma.

“Even though the police have to strictly prioritize, these cases are often easy to investigate. Forging of documents toward the government usually leads to a sentence of immediate imprisonment,” says police lawyer Beate Brinch Sand.

Uncertainty concerning the reports

The educational institutions claim to practice good routines on reporting cases, but they state an amount of reports far higher than what the police claim to have received.

BI Norwegian School of Management says to Universitas that eight BI-applicants have been reported during the last year, either for forging admission papers or for faking their grades from BI.

“Our threshold value is very low when it comes to reporting to the police. Applicants and students should not have to wonder what would happen, should we discover and prove document forgery,” says study director Marianne Schei.

Three people have been reported for forgery during the last year. In addition, at least one attempt at applying to external education with forged documentation is known of.

Section leader for student information and admissions Kristin Fossum Stene does not deny that it is possible that more people forge their diplomas.

“We don’t think we discover all the cases. It’s difficult to figure out all the cases, but with some help from other institutions and good executive officers we have managed to work up competence,” says Stene.

Police lawyer Brinch Sand cannot understand where the educational institutions got their statistics.

“In our system we can only find the three cases mentioned,” she emphasizes.

Vague guidelines

In January this year, the law made to prevent students´ diploma forgery was tightened. The different parts are instructed to inform each other about applicants with forged documents so that cheating can be detected more easily. But NOKUT, who deals with foreign diplomas, and NUCAS, the Norwegian Universities and Colleges Admission Services, express displeasure about how the new laws have vague guidelines concerning the exchange of information.

“We have received some inquiries from educational institutions who have reported applicants to the police, but I believe a higher number of people are reported than the one we are informed of,” says Ida Lønne, head of department in NOKUT.

“For the time being, there is not much exchange of information because there are no set guidelines. Obvious guidelines are needed, so we can avoid that applicants are able to apply other places,” says leader of NUCAS, Bente Ringlund.

The Ministry of Education and Research are now working on a new edition of the regulation of admission to higher education, and Ringlund hopes the guidelines thus can be made more clear, so the institutions more easily can exchange information about people who cheat. In a letter to the ministry, NUCAS also complained about holes in the regulation, which involves that the use of approximate names and age is not struck by the regulation.

Less foreign cheating

In NOKUT, who primarily works with the approval of education from foreign educational institutions, Ida Lønne can inform that they do not receive as many applications with forged documents as they did before.

“This is because of the amount of publicity this theme. NOKUT has been clear on the point that the use of fake documents is punishable by law, and that NOKUT reports any attempts at approving with incorrect information to the police,” says Lønne.

Source: Universitas, University of Oslo

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