Building peace in the minds of men and women

Note on bogus institutions

UNESCO receives an increasing number of queries from individuals, recognition bodies and accrediting agencies concerning dubious providers of higher education using UNESCO’s name or logo to give the impression they are recognized providers of higher education.

UNESCO is an intergovernmental body. It does not have the mandate to accredit or recognise higher education institutions, programmes, diplomas or accrediting agencies. Any provider of higher education or accrediting agency which claims or gives the impression that is it accredited and/or recognized by UNESCO should be treated with caution.

Such institutions or accrediting agencies may use different fraudulent modes.  Beware of:

  • Institutions offering/delivering fake diplomas which feature UNESCO’s logo
  • Institutions claiming one may contact UNESCO to have its accreditation confirmed
  • Institutions which claim to be listed in a “UNESCO Higher Education Institutions Registry”. No such registry exists
  • Institutions using promotional wording such as “the Educational Creed of UNESCO”
  • Institutions inserting UNESCO’s name in their URL address to give the impression of an official link
  • Institutions claiming to be recognized by UNESCO because they host a UNESCO chair
  • False claims by bogus institutions linked to NGOs affiliated with UNESCO.

In case of doubt, check with the competent relevant higher education body in the country of the institution.

Degree-mills and accreditation agencies

There exist both bogus institutions (degree-mills) and bogus accreditation agencies (accreditation-mills and unaccredited accrediting agencies). Given the speed at which they appear and disappear, it is impossible to provide a complete list of either. Below is a list of useful websites provided by governments, organizations and private individuals, that provide alerts about bogus institutions and agencies and tips on how to recognize and track them down.

The joint Council for Higher Education Accreditation/UNESCO “Towards Effective Practice” Discouraging Degree Mills in Higher Education” issued in 2008 provides suggestions for effective practice in this area for academic staff and administrators, accreditation and quality assurance professionals, credential evaluators, national governments and international organizations concerned with quality in higher education in an international setting. It is also intended to guide students, particularly from developing countries, in seeking opportunities for international education.