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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Online education and fraud

In today's competitive world, education is often seen as key to moving ahead. If you plan to work for yourself, education helps you acquire skills that you might have to acquire through trial and error. Education is the price for avoiding traps and pitfalls. It also lends credibility. If you work for an employer, education is an indicator of how dedicated you are in your craft.

Some people have no time, and find online courses attractive. If you plan to take an online course, you need to be wary of potential fraud. While it is true that many established universities offer online courses, some "universities" are frauds. In some cases, bad spelling, ugly website layout and copy-and-paste text alert us immediately to the possibility of fraud. But some websites, which look professional, could be a "mirror" of a genuine website, or could be advertising a non-existent university. Often, applicants who apply through the website are asked to pay for "processing". While it is a normal part of the process, one should avoid paying a fraud.

How do we spot a total fake? A genuine university will exhibit the signs that most genuine universities will exhibit: alumni, current students, published papers, news reports, etc. Genuine educational institutes usually participate in education fairs, so it is a good idea to visit education fairs. Fake universities will never turn up at high profile education fairs.

Even if a university or college exists, how do you know the courses it offers are good? Good courses are accredited by education ministries of various countries. Thus, if you plan to study a course to apply for a job, first see if it is accredited by the education ministry of the country you want to work at. Further, in every field, certain accreditation bodies, are set up by a council of educational institutions. In business, for example, accreditation by AACSB and EQUIS are a proof that the programme is good and the university is genuine.