Questions about Degree from Possible Diploma Mill Cause Kansas Chief IT Officer to Resign

Proof positive as to why employers need to perform due diligence education verifications on job seekers during pre-employment background checks, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the new Chief Information Technology (IT) Officer of the State of Kansas recently introduced by Governor Sam Brownback has resigned after an earlier report in the newspaper raised questions about his college degree from an unaccredited school linked to diploma mills.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the newly hired chief IT officer resigned from the $150,000-a-year position following the disclosure that his college degree in business administration was acquired from the University of Devonshire, an unaccredited school linked to a consortium of diploma mills in the University Degree Program, a company viewed as “one of the most prolific diploma-production enterprises.” The University of Devonshire is not listed among accredited institutions in the databases maintained by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in the United States or the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for Higher Education in the United Kingdom.

As reported previously in the ESR News blog, the rise in “diploma mills” – largely online entities whose degrees are worthless due to the lack of valid accreditation and recognition – makes education verifications an important part of employment screening background checks worldwide. The second annual Accredibase™ Report for 2011 from Verifile Limited, Europe’s leading background screening company, revealed an astounding 48 percent increase worldwide in the number of known fake universities in the past year, and a 20 percent increase in the United States alone. According to the report, the U.S. was the world’s fake college capital and saw the number of known diploma mills rise from 810 to 1,008. California was the leading U.S. state with 147 known diploma mills.

“For some job applicants, getting a college diploma apparently no longer requires years of hard work, taking tests, paying tuition, or even reading a book,” says Attorney Les Rosen, founder and CEO of accredited background check company Employment Screening Resources (ESR) and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’ a comprehensive guide to employment screening background checks. “All a person needs is a credit card and a web browser in order to buy an authentic looking diploma that mimics real colleges, universities, and even high schools across the United States. With these fake diplomas, anyone can instantly graduate from nearly any school in America.”

Adding to the challenge, Rosen reveals that some diploma mills have even created fake accreditation agencies to falsely vouch for the phony schools. In the U.S., schools are generally accredited by private organizations that are recognized as legitimate accreditors by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) at http://www.chea.org/. The U.S. Department of Education has also created a website where employers can search for accredited schools at http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/search.aspx.  

Rosen says employers should not take the educational accomplishments of job seekers at face value without ensuring that the applicant has actually obtained the degree, and that the degree is from a legitimate educational institution. “Educational credentials are an important part of an employer’s decision making process in hiring and educational achievement and can tell an employer a great deal about the job applicant’s ability and qualifications. Many employers feel that educational qualifications are a critical factor in predicting success on the job, and for many positions education is a prerequisite in terms of subject matter knowledge or for obtaining the appropriate license for the position.”

To help businesses understand the importance of checking the educational records of job applicants, Rosen wrote the article ‘The Basics of Education Verifications’ which is available on the ESR website at: http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2009/12/16/the-basics-of-education-verifications/. For more information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):
Founded in 1997 in the San Francisco, CA area,
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by ESR Founder and CEO Lester Rosen. ESR streamlines the screening process and reduces administrative overhead though its proprietary technology solutions.  ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®), a distinction held by less than two percent of all screening firms. This important recognition was achieved by successfully passing a third party audit demonstrating compliance with the NAPBS Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about ESR, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com

About ESR News:
The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog –
ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com.

Sources:
http://cjonline.com/news/2011-11-08/kan-it-chief-resigns-over-questions-about-degree
http://cjonline.com/news/2011-11-07/state-it-chiefs-degree-unaccredited-college
www.qaa.ac.uk/
www.chea.org/
http://www.accredibase.com/index.php?section=871&page=4493