So many people are turning to online university degrees and distance learning programs to improve their skills and secure international jobs. It is no surprise then that online degrees have become so popular because they allow you to work at your own pace, set flexible study schedules, and save money by removing all costs associated with staying on campus.
Unfortunately, the popularity of online degrees has resulted in a slew of bogus universities offering degrees online. The most common type of internet education scam involves so-called diplomas. Some websites can defraud you by posing as a legitimate school and offering essentially worthless online degrees at a very affordable rate.
Another method the scammer use is that they could appear as actual universities, and provide fake online forms offering remote or distance learning education.
Many people, including Nigerians, have been taken advantage of by these so-called universities, with many refusing to reveal their ordeal to the public. However, because these fake universities exist, it is clear that there are many victims.
It is critical to check these boxes before spending your money and committing to an online diploma or degree. These are the things to look out for when considering an online degree:
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Check the accreditation of online degrees
The most effective method is to ensure that any school or distance-learning program you choose is fully accredited. This means that the school or program has been validated or verified by its peers in the education field.
Online universities are typically recognized by an agency or the National Ministry of Education as having met educational standards.
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Make sure the university has been validated by external bodies such as:
- ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education)
- EURASHE (European Association of Institutions in Higher Education)
- ENIC Network (European Network of National Information Centres on academic recognition and mobility)
- EABHES (European Accreditation Board of Higher Education Schools)
- CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation)
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) for the United States
These non-governmental agencies research accreditation issues in the education field and if the university is accredited, you will find a reference to it on their website.
According to StudyPortals, red flags to note are:
- Universities that copy the names of famous institutions
Oxford Technological Online University, for example, is a classic scam that leads you to believe the institution is part of the prestigious Oxford University.
- Admission criteria that appears too simple
If the admission criteria are minimal or very simple requirements, such as a resume and a motivation letter, you should be skeptical. The only exception is if the institution is an open university with few admission requirements.
Most tuition fees are normally paid in instalments, each year or each semester, so most that ask for the full tuition upfront could be a red flag.
- Does not have student support services
Accredited online universities have available resources on their websites related to student support services, or libraries. If you don’t find this information available, most likely, the institution is not valid.
- Contact details cannot be verified
When you search for more information, browse the website of the institution. There are definitely some universities that are exclusively online and may not have a campus address, but they should still have some business contact details.
- Negative reviews from graduates on Google
Getting feedback about the university will give you a good idea of how it operates and how reliable the programs are. On university pages or education-related websites like Study portals, many students leave reviews, so you can determine if it is safe to proceed based on their reviews.
Another red flag to note is that they do not use the “.edu” url, rather they usually end with “.com” or “.net”.
List of unaccredited online universities in the United States of America
There are some unaccredited institutions according to Studyabroad which is not an exhaustive list. Here are some of them:
Washington International University
This was founded in 1994 and is a higher education institution without accreditation and is included on the list of fake online universities in the USA. In the British Virgin Islands, there is a private university called Washington International University.
The university describes itself as a non-traditional, non-campus, international distance learning cyber-university but lacks both a campus and the typical setting of a higher education institution. All the programs are web-based, and they provide online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering, business, and liberal arts.
Fredrick Taylor University
The Fredrick Taylor University is yet another institution on the list of fake online universities in the US. It is a private university that provides unaccredited online degree programs in the US. It provides certificate programs in management and business administration along with bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.
Despite having approval from the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, Fredrick Taylor University does not have approval from any accrediting bodies that are recognized by the US education management.
Therefore, even if you enroll in this institution and pursue a bachelor’s in business administration or management, companies will not accept your degree despite the fact that you may possess the necessary skills.
- American Central University, Wyoming
- American Bible College University, Arizona
- American Century University, New Mexico
- American Coastline university
- American university of Hawaii
- Ames Christian University, Florida
- Bienville University
- Cal Southern University
- Christian Leadership University, New York
- Columbia State University
- Columbus University, picayune, Mississipi
- Commonwealth Open University, Virgin Islands
- Delta International University, New Orleans
- Frederick Taylor University
- Georgia Christian University Norcross, Georgia
- International Bible University, Norwalk, California
- Lacrosse University
- LaSalle University, Louisiana
- Life Christian University, Tampa, Florida
- Louisiana Baptist University, Louisiana
- Madison University
- Monticello University
- Pacific Southern University
- Tennessee Christian University
- The University of Beverly Hills
- University of Northern Virginia
- University of Northern Washington
- University of NorthWest
- University of the Nations
- Vancouver University Worldwide
- Washington International University
List of unaccredited online universities in the United Kingdom
Here is also a list from Studyabroad of unaccredited universities in the United Kingdom:
The University of New Castle
This university is clearly a scam because it uses the prestigious Newcastle University’s name. One way to spot a fake online university is when it almost exactly mimics an actual university’s name, making people vulnerable to being duped.
The University of New Castle is a fake and has no level of accreditation; and is not affiliated with Newcastle University, which is a prestigious higher education institution in the United Kingdom. As a result, it is listed as one of the UK’s fake universities, and you shouldn’t fall for.
Cambridge College of Learning
This university is clearly fake, as it claims to have affiliations with Cambridge university. Many have fallen for it, losing thousands of pounds. It is not accredited and has no affiliation with Cambridge University.
- Bransfield university
- Cambridge College of Learning
- International University of Robert Gordon
- Manchester Open University- Not to be confused with the actual University of Manchester or the Open University
- Rutland University, Leicester- Not to be confused with the Leicester university
- The University of Devonshire
- The University of New Castle
- University of McALlister
- Wanswick University- Not to be confused with Warwick university
- Wolverhampton University- Not to be confused with the Wolverhampton University. The genuine one has a ‘p’ in its spelling
- Youngsfield University
In summary, while it is a good idea to obtain a diploma or degree online, you need to do your due diligence to avoid being defrauded and wasting your time and effort altogether.