Encourage a productive and skilled cadre


One of the objectives of Vision 2030 is self-reliance which means that Saudis eventually have to shoulder the bulk of the mechanism that makes this country run. To do that, we need qualified people from college graduates to technicians. However, the prevailing notions place emphasis that everyone must hold a college degree to get anywhere in life.

In the quest to obtain a college degree, some have opted for an easier route. This was affirmed by a finding of the Ministry of Higher Education, which has identified 110 offices selling forged degrees from non-Saudi universities. The agencies were supplying these bogus degrees for the past several years, with the recent finding just the tip of the iceberg.

The degrees supplied by these diploma mills are not genuine or approved by any official body, and often not worth the paper they are printed on. They are issued by institutions that may offer courses without stringent controls or approved standards. Or they may be simply issued by the transfer of money into an overseas account.

Fake college degrees can be a profitable business for those orchestrating them. Prices for a fake bachelor’s or master’s degree can cost anywhere from SR3,000 to SR30,000 while a bogus doctorate degree can cost up to SR90,000 from an institution in the West.

With the advent of the Internet within everyone’s reach, the issuance of fake degrees has become a universal dilemma, and has made it easier for diploma mills to snare prospective candidates for bogus certification through fake ads or spam. Such institutions simply create a website that looks like it belongs to a genuine university.

A US media investigative team reported that such sites would provide online payment options for customers as well as details for prospective employers who might contact them to verify whether the degree is genuine or not, and that bogus degree markets thrive in India, Israel and Egypt.

Although there have been instances where students were genuinely unaware of the scam, in most cases it was reported that the prospective degree recipients knew exactly what they were getting into.

A US Department of Justice finding of a few years ago created some ripples in this country when it named over a hundred recipients of bogus Ph.D. degrees from Saudi Arabia who obtained their certificates from diploma mills. What was discomforting was that some of them were holding executive positions in the government at the time, undoubtedly riding on the success of those fake degrees.

This brings up another question. Do we need to degree all our people? Is it the social trend that is creating pressure for one and all to seek a college degree? Those who are not earnest or committed enough or others who may just not be too bright in the confines of a university classroom may find the call of a diploma mill appealing. It’s only the transfer of money and very little mental effort on the part of the recipient, and soon enough a snazzy and impressive piece of paper is in one’s hands sure enough to impress any human resources manager.

There have also been a few cases where such degree holders were prompted by social pressure and not employment. Such people surrounded by a group of PhDs found it necessary to validate their standings among the group, and the diploma mill was the most expedient method.

Let us tear away from this peculiar social force that everyone should hold a university degree. Such a principle could push some to take the easier bogus route. Stop this craziness insisting that only someone with a Ph.D. can teach a basic course at university!

Usually, they can't and have no interest in doing so. We have diluted our education systems and overproduced Ph.D.s who now outnumber the jobs available. Bring back Technical Colleges, Business Colleges, etc. and stop calling them universities. This is what the country needs most; a nation of capable and qualified doers and not an inflated bunch of idle Ph.D. holders.