The University of Johannesburg (UJ) will begin offering its degrees and certificates on the blockchain to avoid fraud. The university said the certificate will help stop counterfeiting and avoid the fraudulent representation of qualifications.
UJ was the first South African Institution to offer its graduates the additional value offering of digital certificates a few years back. This not only allowed graduates to securely view and order lost or damaged certificates but also gave them access to share their certificates securely with third parties or employers, at no cost.
From 2022 onwards, UJ said it will now enhance its certificates by adding blockchain-based security features to it.
“The new blockchain-based certificate features will enhance the security of certificates even more. Certificates issued from this year on will have QR codes printed on them, which anybody can scan with a smartphone to verify whether the information on the certificate is correct and has been issued legitimately by UJ.
“The public is now able to validate the awarded qualifications for UJ graduates without having to contact the University or having to go through a verification agency, just by scanning the QR code on the certificate and best of all, at no cost,” said Dr Tinus van Zyl, senior director of Central Academic Administration at UJ.
UJ’s registrar, Prof Kinta Burger added that the new blockchain-based certificates will not only protect the University’s certificates from fraud but also preserve the reputation of the institution and the integrity of qualifications.
“UJ is committed to applying new technologies to improve systems and service delivery. This continuous improvement strategy and use of cutting-edge technology, facilitated through the Fourth Industrial Revolution are at the heart of our philosophy.”
Increased background checks
While South African companies face a hiring crunch because of the economic challenges faced over the past two years, an increasing number are turning to background checks before hiring, says Jennifer Barkhuizen at background screening and vetting company, Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE).
“With the rising unemployment rate in South Africa, some people will go to any lengths to secure employment, including falsifying their qualifications, mispresenting their work experience, or hiding the fact that they have a criminal record,” she said.
MIE conducted close to 2.3 million background screening transactions during 2021. Barkhuizen said that the demand for these services has steadily increased over the past five years, with the group expecting this trend to continue in 2022.
“Our most requested checks remain criminal record and qualification verification, but we have also seen a sharp increase in social media screening requests,” said Barkhuizen.
“With well over 30 million social media users in South Africa – and with this number growing daily– social media screening is becoming more of a business imperative than ever before, taking into consideration th