Digital diploma

Digital Diploma: Providing Next Level Security and Convenience

Digital diploma may not replace physical ones any time soon, but they could play a constructive role in weeding out fake degrees

Much of the credit for India’s current economic performance – domestically and internationally – can be attributed to our highly educated and skilled workforce, which is churned out by an extremely competitive higher education system. However, the production of counterfeit documents, or fake degrees and diplomas, has been gradually on the rise with more people opting to take the easy way out.

One in every two person claiming to have a PhD degree in the US has a fake degree. In France& United Kingdom, about 33% of job applicants are being flagged for having a fake diploma. Needless to say, the problem persists in many other countries across the world.

Getting to the root cause of the issue

A deeper look at the factors that are driving the demand of fake transcripts and diplomas in the country will reveal three main reasons: firstly, it is because the academic qualifications have gained increasing commercial value; secondly, it is the advancements in technology that has made it easier for people to counterfeit academic documents and make them look as authentic as possible; and finally, the rise of internet, which has given scamsters an avenue through which they can attract interested customers without much fuss.

The way out: Go digital and take refuge in technology

Though there are a lot of options on the table starting from linking Aadhaar, the Unique Identification Number that 890 million Indians possess, with the performance record of students from Class X onwards, to setting up a National Academic Recognition Information Center in line with ENIC-NARIC centers in US and Europe, going digital (i.e. issuing digital diplomas or eDiplomas) is the best option. This is because of three reasons.

Firstly, eDiploma brings authenticity of data and issuer together with physical security in the form of a printable secure QR code with an embedded PKI Certificate. Secondly, by using legally valid digital signature & timestamps, it also enables digital document authenticity for eternity so that diplomas can be shared digitally in a verifiable manner.

The benefits are multi-fold. Students can submit education proof digitally, physical diplomas can be scanned for authenticity using just about any smartphone, universities can save time in diploma issuance, and the entire process is managed within a controlled environment, with tamper proof audit logs, and so on. It’s a good mix of security, efficiency, and convenience.

Finally, there is the monetary benefit associated with operational efficiency, accessibility, and where universities decide to go fully paperless, the cost of paper.

The road ahead

No, digital diplomas are not going to replace the physical diplomas anytime soon, owing to the sentiment attached to receiving a diploma at the graduation ceremony. But digital diplomas without any doubt will play a significant role in the future of the education industry. In a world where Universities are going digital and the online world of self-education is growing rapidly, Digital diplomas offer an immediate solution to document issuance and authenticity management through a digital medium. They will certainly play an important role in the future.

By Arvind Srinivasan, SVP – Strategic Initiatives & Global Markets, eMudhra

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