In 2017, the Federation of the French-speaking students in Belgium (FEF) discovered a network of fake universities: institutions of higher education, which are not qualified to deliver a degree endorsed by the government and use techniques that are intentionally deceitful in order to make students register for their programs. Some of them are located near official universities or use similar designations.
Unfortunately, the students enrolled in those institutions graduate with a non-recognised diploma. There are at least 82 ‘fake universities’ in Belgium. FEF estimates that the market of fake universities is worth 200 million dollars.
This network leads to all kind of abuses. There are commercial agencies recruiting international students from non-EU countries for those ‘fake universities’, often asking for preliminary tuition fees that are not refundable in case they are not selected for the University.
Those ‘fake universities’ aiming to make a profit, are a real threat to our higher education system. FEF denounced this situation and introduced a mapping-work along with solutions to the Parliament, asking to implement new laws in order to highlight those fake universities. Firstly, a financial penalty needs to be imposed on institutions that use misleading information. Secondly, explicit information needs to be provided about the situation, to the embassies of the countries that are usually targeted by these ‘fake universities’.