Get tough on fake degreesFabricating academic degrees is becoming commonplace in Korea. With fake academic degrees, Shin Jeong-ha worked as an active figure in art and academic fields in Korea before her fabrication was revealed. But this is a tip of the iceberg. Many people have bought doctoral degrees at foreign ghost universities and were later caught. An increasing number of Koreans have fabricated graduation letters and academic transcripts from Korea’s prestigious universities. This is a shame, indeed.
Some say this is because Korean society puts an excessive emphasis on educational background. But fabrication of degrees cannot be sanctioned no matter what. Many of those who have not attended college have become successful. Many have become executives, respected craftsmen or even professors without college degrees. This proves that individuals’ skills and experiences are becoming more highly valued than academic credentials in our society. To lie about one’s academic background is certainly a fraud. Not only do those who inflate their academic backgrounds act pompously and benefit from fabricated degrees, but they also make society put an unreasonable emphasis on academic backgrounds.
That it is hard to verify people’s academic certificates is a serious problem. Those who completed academic degrees in foreign universities are required to report to the Korea Research Foundation, but this is not enforced. This institution has a limited number of staff so it is technically impossible to look into all the academic papers reported. Most universities do not verify whether dissertations are authentic or fabricated, when employing new professors. Local education offices have private academic institutes hand in instructors’ the academic letters from the schools they last attended, but this is merely a formality.
Fabrication of foreign academic degrees is becoming increasingly easy. There are many ghost universities that sell doctoral degrees. Many Web sites mediate the selling and buying of fake academic degrees. Not long ago, some Korean professors were revealed to have committed plagiarism for their dissertations. Fabricating academic degrees is a far more serious problem.
The Japanese government recently decided to investigate professors’ fake academic degrees across the country. The Korean Ministry of Education and Human Resources must design a system to filter fake academic degrees in order to make our academic field become competitive.