The scandal of the fake Master’s and Ph.D. degrees that were given by Lebanese universities to Iraqi students has failed to turn into a matter of public opinion in Lebanon.
Tens of thousands of certificates from universities in Lebanon were reportedly sold to Iraqi students in return for payments in cash dollars.
The Iraqi Ministry of Education had discovered the scam back in November 2020 due to the large number of students who received a Ph.D. and Master’s degree, as well as a Bachelor’s degree from Lebanon.
A year later, the ministry in charge has failed to hold those responsible accountable.
A public opinion matter might have been able to pressure Lebanon’s officials to review the higher education system and stop corruption while holding those responsible to account.
The new Education Minister, former judge Abbas Al-Halabi, has formed a committee to investigate the criminal case. However, no one has been arrested, charged, or held accountable yet.
A Master’s degree was reportedly being charged at $5,000, and a Ph.D. at $10,000, which indicates that only Iraqi students of wealthy families could have participated in the scam.
It is important to clarify that this scandal doesn’t involve all universities in Lebanon where studying for a high-education degree is a difficult and demanding journey.
These fake degrees were reportedly issued from three different universities that don’t hold the same distinguished reputation as most universities in Lebanon: the Modern University of Business & Science, the Islamic University of Lebanon, and Jinan University.
According to sources from Lebanon’s higher education system, none of the universities involved were held accountable by the system.
The problem is not only with the sale or direct forgery of certificates but also in the violation of the standards and conditions on which they were granted.
The system of corruption is interlinked between groups in the two countries.
At first, it was about 18,000 Iraqi students, then the number rose to 24,000 after scrutiny, and in total 27,000 fake certificates were established.
“The number of Iraqis who received certificates is much higher with thousands of students who graduate through online attendance,” a spokesperson in the education department said.
Students were registered by brokers through networks and arrangements to certify diplomas, and even secure homes and rent them to those who come to Lebanon in return for money paid in cash dollars.
The corruption is so severe to the extent that whenever the payment increases in cash dollars, the student can obtain a degree without even attending.
The question remains on the reason why the Lebanese education ministry and the authorities have been taking all their time to “investigate” – if any – and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The Lebanese officials’ tendency of negligence in dealing with critical matters begets weighty repercussions they always fail to seriously consider.
This one affects the stellar reputation of Lebanon’s university degrees, which have been known to widely open doors for employment overseas, and Lebanon’s economy has always counted on the expats working abroad.