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Yes, We Do Need a Copy of the Diploma to Do a Global Education Verification

Yes, We Do Need a Copy of the Diploma to Do a Global Education Verification

By Kerstin Bagus | May 11, 2017 | Global Background Searches, Global Operations, Kerstin's Global Screening Tips

A complaint we often receive in global screening is, “Why do I have to send you a copy of a person’s diploma for an International Education Verification? After all, I’m paying you an exorbitant sum to do the verification, and now you expect me to provide you the result on top of this?”

We understand you paid for us to conduct the verification. And we understand it seems you are not getting what you paid for if you provide us with what seems to be the verification proof – the diploma. There are many reasons why a copy of a degree or diploma is required, and I will dig into them in this post.

Before I get into the many reasons we require a copy of the degree or diploma, it is important to understand that almost all education verifications conducted outside the U.S. are done directly with the school. Databases such as National Student ClearingHouse and others like it rarely exist outside the U.S. When they do, they are not as comprehensive.

Here are the primary reasons why a copy of the degree or diploma is needed:

  • Required by the Source: First and foremost, a copy of the degree or diploma is required, “because I said so.” The school requires this document. They will not conduct a verification without it.
  • Name Confirmation: Especially with non-Western alphabets, a copy of the degree or diploma will indicate the name the person used during attendance and graduation, which may be very different than the name used during the verification. As an example, the actor Bruce Lee’s Cantonese name at birth was Lee Jun-fan (李振藩). He allegedly used the name of Li Yuanjian (李元鑒) when he was a student at La Salle College in Hong Kong.* Even with Western alphabets, a person may now be known by a different name than when they attended the school. Brian (Thurston) Howell may have been known as Brian during his school rugby years in the UK, but now that he is a financial executive and is more interested in hob nobbing on his upcoming cruise on the SS Minnow, he goes by the name of Thurston Howell III.
  • School and Unit Confirmation: The degree or diploma will confirm the specific location and school where the attendance and graduation occurred. Consider how many schools there are in the world that are named John F Kennedy. Having a copy of the degree or diploma will identify the specific school that goes by this name. Many years ago, we processed a verification for an individual who claimed to have graduated from a university in Alexandria, Egypt. Our research did not confirm this graduation, even with a copy of the degree. After a couple of weeks of research following the subject’s dispute, it was discovered the degree provided was an English translation of the original. Once we had the original degree, we could determine the correct school within the university and were able to successfully confirm his degree.
  • Navigation of the School’s Archiving System: Some schools require the degree, diploma, MarkSheet**, or roll number so that they know where to look in their systems.
  • Fraud Prevention: The degree or diploma copy may be compared with the school’s records to determine if there has been any alteration done to it.

And then there are the exceptions. As a reader of this blog and hopefully a follower of NAPBS and ClearStar Academy presentations, you know that requirements for conducting a background search will vary by country and source. Three more commonly searched countries have requirements beyond a copy of the degree or diploma.

China: Normally, a student gets two certificates when they graduate from a 4-year university education. One is the Graduation Certificate (which is like a diploma) and the other is the Degree Certificate. Students can legitimately graduate without obtaining a degree. For example, if they failed major courses, failed a certain number of courses, failed the English-level test, or had regulation violation records at school. If the education is a non-degreed education, such as a 3-year school, then the student would only get a Graduation Certificate, and they would not get a Degree Certificate. There are also situations where a student would only get a Degree Certificate but not a Graduation Certificate. This usually occurs in adult education situations such as part-time MBA education. ClearStar will verify both the Graduation Certificate and the Degree Certificate. If a customer sends in only one, we can verify just that one, but the information verified will be more limited.

India: Schools in India often require a copy of the MarkSheet in addition to a copy of the degree or diploma. The MarkSheet copy may need to display the seat or roll number, which can be found in a variety of places on the document. Further complicating the education verification process in India is the fact that each school will have its own requirements for the verification. These requirements can change depending on the person at the school involved in the verification. Another reason for the degree or diploma copy requirement in India is some colleges are associated with Universities. The degree or diploma is granted by the University and may be verified by the local college or verified by the University. Having a copy of the degree or diploma provides information about the source for the verification.

Japan: The ability and process to conduct the verification will vary by school and even within a school. School requirements frequently change. Here are some of the common scenarios of the process required and results for a Japan Education Verification:

  • The verification may be completed using the supplied information.
  • Additional information or documents may be required, and then the verification will be completed.
  • The school will only issue a Certificate if the subject has telephonically confirmed our request.
  • The school may issue a Certificate to us but will not verify any Certificate we have received from the subject.
  • The subject will need to apply for a Graduation Certification. They will need to forward that Certificate to us. Once we have received the Certificate, we will verify it with the school.

Additional ordering requirements will vary by school and may even vary within the school. The additional ordering requirements may not be known until after the verification has been attempted.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Lee
** A MarkSheet is like a Transcript but contains less information. A MarkSheet is for a year’s term and includes a statement of “marks” or grades. A Transcript will list all subjects taken and will indicate the course hours and the grade. A MarkSheet is often required to conduct a verification in India.


Kerstin Bagus – Director, Global Initiatives

Kerstin Bagus supports ClearStar’s Global Screening Program as its Director of Global Initiatives. She has more than 30 years of background screening industry experience, working for a variety of firms, large and small. Kerstin is one of the few individuals in the industry who is privacy-certified through the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) for Canada, the EU, and the U.S.

Kerstin is a passionate participant in the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and is a current member of the Board, in addition to participating on several committees. She also participates on IFDAT’s Legal Committee, with a primary focus on global data privacy.

At ClearStar, we are committed to your success. An important part of your employment screening program involves compliance with various laws and regulations, which is why we are providing information regarding screening requirements in certain countries, region, etc. While we are happy to provide you with this information, it is your responsibility to comply with applicable laws and to understand how such information pertains to your employment screening program. The foregoing information is not offered as legal advice but is instead offered for informational purposes. ClearStar is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice and this communication does not form an attorney client relationship. The foregoing information is therefore not intended as a substitute for the legal advice of a lawyer knowledgeable of the user’s individual circumstances or to provide legal advice. ClearStar makes no assurances regarding the accuracy, completeness, or utility of the information contained in this publication. Legislative, regulatory and case law developments regularly impact on general research and this area is evolving rapidly. ClearStar expressly disclaim any warranties or responsibility or damages associated with or arising out of the information provided herein.