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'Fake credentials' haunt employers
Date:2010/7/26      View:1146
Employers in the country have adopted stricter background checks on potential employees following accusations of academic fraud against former Microsoft China chief Tang Jun.

Earlier this month, Fang Zhouzi, who is known for exposing plagiarism and academic fraud in China, claimed that Tang Jun, who was president of Microsoft's China operation from 2002 to 2004, had falsely claimed in his autobiography to have earned a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology.

Fang also said the California-based Pacific Western University, which awarded Tang his PhD degree in electrical engineering, is actually a "diploma mill", where students can purchase degrees.

The scandal was later dubbed the "fake credential gate" by Chinese media.

The incident, which ignited a heated public discussion, has alerted employers, who are now leaving no stone unturned to crosscheck their job applicants' credentials and credibility.

Qiu Jialu, an HR specialist at a real estate investment company, said her company is stepping up investigation on potential employees' background information.

"Our company has strict procedures for recruitment, especially for those applying for high and middle-level positions. Now, we are planning to expand background checks on those applying for rank-and-file positions," Qiu said.

"The phenomenon of faking diplomas reflects a trust issue. We have no tolerance toward a person who is bare of credit and honesty no matter how fit he or she is for the job," she said.

"Tang Jun's case reflects a social problem. With the increasingly cut-throat competition, many people buy fake academic credentials to advance their careers," said Zhu Shibo, manager of the recruitment service center at the China International Intellectech Corporation Shanghai foreign enterprises service company, one of the country's leading human resources service providers.

She added that many companies have strengthened background checks on job applicants following the incident.

Zhu said her center has received unprecedented commissions to investigate job applicants in recent years. "The number of employers who hire our services for background investigation, which usually covers highest educational qualification, criminal record and work experience, has doubled in the past two years."

HR specialist Tracy Zhou who is working at an information technology company, said her company entrusts a third-party agency to help investigate their candidates' credentials.

"We receive dozens of resumes every day, and many of them claim to have earned degrees from little known schools abroad. We have to crosscheck," she said.

The Ministry of Education has released a list of approved Chinese-foreign jointly run schools, including more than 400 schools for undergraduate education.

In order to help students gain qualified education abroad, the ministry also released a college/university list, which includes more than 10,000 colleges or universities from 33 countries, which the Chinese government accepts.

Neither the Pacific Western University, where Tang got his diploma, nor the California Miramar University - its new name - figure on the list.

Seven types of certificates, including diplomas or higher education certificates issued overseas and obtained through correspondence education, long-range education and network education, are not under the ministry's list of certification.
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