An unfortunate reality of credential evaluation is that we regularly find ourselves at the mercy of circumstance. This has been magnified over the past year or so, as educational institutions across the world have been paralyzed by the pandemic. Temporary closures have left emails unmonitored and requests for paper documents unfulfilled.
While the crunch in traditional evaluation resources has been problematic, it has focused our attention on digital solutions. Digital verification tools like online databases, repositories and graduate lists were a convenience in the past, but they have now become an essential building block toward the future of credential authentication. This isn’t breaking news, of course – but it has slowly been creeping up on us. I thought it might be interesting to analyze what our own credential evaluators have reported over the past few years.
Online Verification is Trending
We have been utilizing online resources for years to verify the authenticity of awards, marks, theses and assistant deans before last, but it’s clear that an increasing number of institutions are recognizing the benefits of online databases and repositories. Based on my own observations as a credential evaluator, it seems evident that new verification tools are appearing regularly on documents, websites and evaluation resources. Sure enough, our data confirms that online verification, in practice, increased significantly in recent years. In fact, our staff reported twice as many online verifications in 2019 as they did in 2015.
I doubt many Evaluators would be surprised by these observations, but it reaffirms what we already know – the ability to verify academic credentials online is becoming increasingly prevalent.
Who is Embracing the Digital Movement?
The data also provides some insight into which regions, countries and institutions are utilizing online verification tools. From 2015 to 2020, rates of online verification were consistent for credentials from institutions with established online verification resources (from countries like China, India, Mexico and Peru). Ministries and institutions in these countries were quick to adopt online verification and have provided digital services for years.
We also saw a significant increase in rates from more recent adopters. We reported a considerable spike in verified credentials from countries like Australia, Brazil, Jordan, Spain and Turkey (just to name a few). In some cases, the surge can be explained by the introduction of electronic document services (or digital document providers), such as My eQuals in Australia and eTítulo in Spain. However, in countries like Brazil and Jordan, the increase is due to new online verification tools provided by universities.
Based on our data, the upward trend can (at least in part) be attributed to the continued implementation of existing verification technology, as well as an influx of new online verification options where there previously weren't any. These observations are based entirely on our own reporting, but it seems like a realistic snapshot of current trends.
My favorite examples of online verification resources are the services that have managed to retain data going back decades. In researching this topic, I came across verified credentials from Mexico, Peru, China, Russia, Ecuador, and Australia dating back to the early 1970’s. While these services were not around in those days, comprehensive databases and systems are serving as credential time capsules.
I am also constantly impressed by the efficiency and pragmatism of online verification tools. Online verification resources can effectively serve large regional networks and they are not limited to institutions in rich countries with advanced infrastructure. For example, from 2015 to 2020 we verified more West African Examinations Council (WAEC) scratch cards than any other credential. The scratch cards can be verified online and are integral to student mobility in the region. There are many other examples of efficient systems, like CDGDC and CHESICC verification services in China, online results verification offered by many institutions in India, and cédula verification in Mexico.
Based on our reporting, I think it’s safe to expect increased and improved accessibility to online verification tools in the years to come. While our observations aren't particularly surprising, they are consistent with what we see on a daily basis. Regardless, I think the data provides an interesting outlook, and I look forward to continuing to track these trends!
- Is online verification the answer?
- Our best advice for verifying credentials
- The dilemma of fraud in global assessment
|Rasmus Spanner is a Research & Knowledge Management Evaluator and has been with ECE since 2016. He is interested in data-driven content and the influence of technology on credential evaluation.|