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Surely there’s no harm in increasing that D grade pass in GCSE maths to a B in order to apply for your dream course at college? Or claiming a 2:1 in your degree when you actually dropped out half way through the second year? It’s one of the most common fibs on CVs and application forms – either claiming qualifications which you never sat or inflating the grades to appear a stronger candidate. Employers are becoming wise to these tricks though and many have started a rigorous process of pre-employment checks to make sure that candidates are who they say they are. Can they check up on exam passes?

Universities and Colleges

Universities, unlike schools, all set their own exams and do their own marking. There are a couple of options for verifying if a candidate has indeed achieved the degree and classification which they are claiming. Many Universities run their own verification service which is usually free. Google “academic verification” and the name of the institution to get to the right page. Universities will need the full name of the student, their date of birth, the course of study and the year of graduation. They will then be able to confirm what the student studied, their degree class and date of graduation. If the student graduated several years previously, make sure they haven’t changed their name in the intervening period.

There is also a database called HEDD which allows employers to check to see whether a listed institution of higher education is legitimate, or a bogus college which isn’t accredited and issues fake degrees. Employers can apply for verification directly through HEDD for £12, or just use the information to approach universities and colleges direct.

School Qualifications

Verifying GCSE and A-Level results is trickier. If a candidate has a certificate, this should state the exam boards which made the award. The most common exam boards are AQA, OCR and Edexcel. All three offer a verification service which will allow you to check that the certificates presented to you are legitimate. If a candidate sat exams decades ago, and has lost certificates, it can be trickier to check up. Many employers don’t check school exams dating back decades. If you still want to check, the candidate may have to contact their old school or local Council to find out the exam board, give written consent, and then employers can request information.

Professional Qualifications

Again, employers may not want to go to the hassle of checking each and every professional qualification, but in some industries it’s essential. If someone is claiming “chartered” status in a field, registers will be held by the appropriate body and are easily checked.

Cutting Down on Fraud

Often, if employers make it very clear that they will check up on qualifications this is enough to make candidates think twice about lying on applications. Pre-employment checking is becoming standard practice in many industries. Press coverage of news such as the Oxford NHS executive convicted for fraud and imprisoned for falsely claiming a degree may also make people think twice about being less than honest.