Worried by the global activities of degree mills, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, has advised operators of higher institutions to create tools for identifying of degree mills to checkmate their activities.
In its report on higher education, the body also urged institutions to use evidence of quality assurance bodies, and develop reliable country-based lists of legitimate higher education providers.
UNESCO described degree mills as entities which offer, for a fee, degrees, diplomas or certificates that required little or no coursework from individuals.
UNESCO and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in the United States, had agreed in September 2001 to partner in the effort to deal with the growing problem of degree mills.
The report noted that some legitimate higher education institutions that indulged in producing very poor quality graduates also qualified as degree mills.
According to UNESCO, some of the degree mills run fake courses, offer fake grades, fake transcripts, fake certificates, and in some instances, operate on fake campuses and addresses.
UNESCO said degree mills had been harmful to development because the fraudulent credentials they issued threatened public safety, especially when fake degrees were offered in such vital areas as education, health, and engineering.
The report added, ?Degree mills also undermine the value of legitimate higher education institutions. They harm students and the society.
?Victims of degree mills usually invest a considerable amount of money in credentials that cannot be used as entry to graduate school or employment.
?Society is harmed when fraudulent credentials are issued in areas that put public health and safety at risk, e.g., engineering or the health-related professions.
?The international work of legitimate higher education providers; reliable evaluation of credentials, successful transfer of credit, and reconciliation of differences in degree structures are undermined by degree mills.?