A South African private higher education institution has, in a first for the country, launched an electronic verification system to accompany its degrees.
In addition to making educational information of students easily accessible, the development will also help to reduce fraud.

“This is a significant step forward from the traditional way of handling graduate information, which often makes it onerous and time consuming to verify an individual’s qualifications claims,” says Dr Felicity Coughlan, director of the Independent Institute of Education (IIE).

All qualifications awarded by the IIE in its graduation ceremonies will in future include a QR code on certificates which, when scanned and used with an authorisation key, will give the user direct access to the individual’s academic records on the institution’s student administration system.

The view will also provide full details of the qualification concerned: its NQF registration number, the accreditation status of the qualification and the institution, the institutional registration details and details including credit values, outcomes and NQF level of each subject studied. For those without QR code readers, a unique URL, also with personalised authentication, is part of the development.

Students can add to the view their social media profiles and other information giving a verified, authentic one stop place for all pertinent information normally required by employers and graduate study institutions.

Dr Coughlan says the personalised credentials verification process, alongside the provision of any relevant personalised information, will make it easy for graduates to communicate all the information decision makers need while confirming the authenticity of a qualification.

“Our experience is that anything that achieves both of these aims meets a real need for students in a competitive market where cynicism about fraud is rife. It places our students ahead of the pack in this regard.
“Called the IIEMarque, this application is the result of a lengthy and intense development process, and will raise the bar on the way graduates communicate their credentials to prospective employers and postgraduate institutions.”

Coughlan says significant resources were committed to the project, because it was vital for The Independent Institute of Education to offer contemporary solutions and simplified methods to a new generation of students.

As a result, this development does not only lead the way for private higher education, but across the higher education sector, which is still too frequently dogged by questions of integrity and authenticity of qualifications.