Rye ponders online degree verification

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Just days after York University launched a new degree verification process, Ryerson would like to bring a similar system to prospective employers. YU Verify, run by York’s registrar’s office, went online last week. The site allows users check the credentials of anyone who claims to have attended York. If the results are easily available, viewers can find data immediately.

“Canadian degrees are highly sought after all over the world,” said Alex Bilyk, director of media relations at York.

Canadian degrees have a history of abuse, he said. In 2006, a Toronto Star investigation exposed a diploma mill selling documents from York and the University of Toronto for thousands of dollars. The former York student, Peng Sun, produced fake diplomas and transcripts that were almost identical to the real thing.

“I think it’s part of moving forward,” said Bilyk, explaining that York was just using technology to make the process easier. “Anyone receiving a degree is public information.”

At Ryerson, verification requests must be sent by fax or in writing, said Ken Scullion, associate registrar of enrollment services.

“We get thousands of those requests every year,” said Scullion. They require the student involved to release their private information. If a student refused to let an employer view their data it would raise red flags about their honesty, said Scullion.

“I really like what York’s doing,” said Scullion, adding that he sent a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request to review if Ryerson could implement a similar website without violating any privacy laws.

If the idea gets the all-clear, Scullion said he would love to spearhead the effort.

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy would like to evaluate the needs of potential employers.

“You go as far as ensuring that the freedoms of information are protected, but I think the idea that an employer can easily make sure that the degree is authentic is a good idea,” Levy said.

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