Verifying International Student Credentials – Protecting universities from the issues of ghost students and visa swap

Verifying International Student Credentials – Protecting universities from the issues of ghost students and visa swap
26/04/2023 Kathy Sadler

The Covid epidemic had unforeseen consequences for higher education in every market. Universities were faced with issues of remote tuition, reduced student admissions and revenues from both domestic and international markets, and subsequent difficulties in managing examinations and awards.

Although the threat of Corona virus has receded in most countries, the Impact of the pandemic continues, despite restrictions on travel finally being lifted.

Australian universities, hard hit by the severe restrictions on migration imposed by both Australia and China, have sought to broaden their intake of international students, looking in addition, to India, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

These attempts at diversification of student recruitment were dealt a blow, however, when Australia’s Department for Home Affairs (DHA) advised several universities against admitting applicants from the Punjab or Haryana regions of northern India and elsewhere, citing an increase in fraudulent documents and incomplete visa applications specifically from Indians, resulting in over 94% of applications from India being rejected in February 2023.

The increase in fraudulent or invalid applications has coincided with a change to Australian work regulations introduced by the previous coalition government, allowing full fee paying international students to work full time while also studying full time.

There is increasing evidence of students failing to enrol or switching courses to less expensive, vocational or private colleges in order to access unlimited work rights at lower cost.  Concerns have also been raised that genuine students are coming under pressure from family to work longer hours in order to send money home. Universities may be concerned that grades will fall if students proritise paid work over academic study.

Statistics from our own Qualification Check systems show that non-verification of qualifications from Indian universities has more than doubled in the first three months of 2023, rising from a low 1.8% in 2022 to 5.1% in the first three months of this year

The current Labour administration in Australia is expected to tighten regulations shortly.

The issue of visa swap is neither new nor limited only to Australia.  Universities in the UK have also noted increasing numbers of fraudulent applications, of students who gain a student visa but then do not attend classes. International students in the UK are allowed to work 20 hours per week during term time and longer during vacation periods.   On graduation, some students are also granted right to reside and to work in the UK for a period of up to three years.

In Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IIRC) which is responsible for granting visas, established a Letter of Acceptance Verification Project in 2018 to create a centralised office for verifying with institutions, the authenticity of letters of acceptance.  This was in response to fraudulent letters of acceptance being used to gain visas to study in Canada, where students are also allowed to work 20 hours per week.

Global Verification by Qualification Check enables fast and secure checking on applicants’ academic credentials regardless of their nationality of country of residence.

For further information go to, or register to explore our verification portal at no cost, at

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