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Only when the College of Industry and Trade verified his submitted documents, a step in the procedure for appointing Hai as faculty dean, did it discover that Hai had used a fake doctorate.

The fake doctorate showed that Hai has obtained a doctorate in computer science from the HCM City University of Natural Sciences, a member school of the HCM City National University, in 2022.

Computer science is now a popular major as businesses now have high demand for highly-qualified staff. 

The University of Natural Sciences said that it had never granted a doctorate to Hai and Hai never was a PhD student at the school.

The fake degree not only helped Hai apply to the College of Industry and Trade, but also many other universities, including well-known public and private schools.

Le Dong Phuong, former director of the Higher Education Research Center under the Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences, said Hai successfully fooled recruitment divisions of the schools because the schools believed in notarized documents and did not think of verifying degrees.

Junior colleges (3-year training) often assume that no-one would use a fake degree to apply for the post of a lecturer at a junior college.

Phuong pointed out that the lack of transparency of the information system about education levels and the complicated verification procedures, which have not been digitized, have caused difficulties for employers.

Hoang Ngoc Vinh, former director of the Department of Professional Education, believes that the problem lies in the unprofessional recruitment regime. 

Many people and schools believe that all PhDs in information technology (IT) graduating from top-tier universities have high professional and pedagogical qualifications.

“Don’t think that everything that glitters is gold,” Vinh said. 

Dr Do Van Dung, former rector of the HCM City University of Technology and Education, said in most cases schools only consider CVs submitted by candidates to decide whether to recruit them. High attention is paid to their profile, including schools where they once worked before, the number of research works, and their education level. 

Moreover, visiting lecturers often work for a short time, so schools don’t spend much time verifying candidates’ educational degrees. Majors such as computer science need more teachers, so schools sometimes ‘ignore’ necessary factors and skip steps of procedures when recruiting lecturers.

Le Huyen