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My friend recently joined a large federal government organisation in Canada. A few of months into the job, she's applying to another job within the org. During the application, she's being accused of holding a fake engineering degree from one of the top universities in Canada. In fact, I know her degree is legitimate. The reason given is that it "looks fake". It's scanned and looks different than the typical phone photo. Both the university and the org are saying this. Sounds like the university didn't actually check. She didn't change her name.

She is emotionally distraught due to this. She happens to belong to a minority group in an area of the country where sentiments against this group are high. It is hard not to think this might be relevant. Maybe it's a mistaken identity, though the chances of fooling this particular organisation is very low. I'd argue there are more chances of malice.

The university in question has been unresponsive so far. This is insane.

I suggested that she get a lawyer, reach out to organizations that handle human rights complaints, and to investigative journalists.

Has anyone heard of this happening before? advice on this? What options does my friend have?

Update after accepting answer: She managed to receive a notice of correction from the university. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, experiences, and suggestions.

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    Who is accusing her? Her manager? Is the accusation in writing? Has it been detailed what your friend needs to do in order to prove their degree? Oct 14 at 1:16
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    And has your friend gone through the correct process at the university to get their academic transcript, or did she send an email pleading for help? It's not the university's responsibility to engage the employer on their behalf, but they may be obliged to provide a digital copy of the transcript. Oct 14 at 1:19
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    "The university in question has been unresponsive so far." This does not make sense. Universities provide official transcripts and diplomas all the time. At most, all that should be necessary to clear this up is to fill out a form and pay a nominal fee to have documentation sent to the employer.
    – d_b
    Oct 14 at 1:19
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    Surely the university has documentation, records, and transcripts regarding her degree? Surely it isn't legal to withhold those from her? How has she attempted to get a copy of these records and documents from the university?
    – joeqwerty
    Oct 14 at 1:31
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    Any reputable university will have a process in order to get academic transcripts. Your friend simply needs to follow that process. No need to worry about being unprofessional or professional or anything like that. Just get the transcripts. Oct 14 at 3:03
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Government degree verification in Canada often lacks quality

I used to work for a governmental organization in Canada. I verified my degree with a picture of my diploma taken on my phone. That was how they checked your credentials.

I can easily see their idea of verification being emailing someone in admin at the university and them spelling the name wrong or going to the wrong department or asking for the wrong faculty or level or campus or year. Verification challenges have happened to quite a few friends.

Start by ordering an official transcript and ask HR for an address to send it. Universities all have some way to do this that is quick and easy.

Or just get on the phone with the Alumni office or the Registrar. Make them actually turn her down over the phone rather than ghosting her by email.

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    Yeah, this seems like a no brainer - contact the college and get a copy.
    – sfxedit
    Oct 14 at 16:40
  • Just to add: I can log into my university's online portal and print a proof of completion letter (similar to proof of enrolment letter), so that might be a good option. Ordering a transcript to be sent directly to the organization's HR department is probably still the best option.
    – zmike
    Oct 14 at 16:48
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    Also, my experience is similar to yours when it comes to government degree verification in Canada. I went to an interview for a job at a federal department; the interviewer just asked to see my diploma over a video call. No proof-of-completion letter nor official transcripts required.
    – zmike
    Oct 14 at 16:54
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    @sfxedit The key is get the University to mail directly to the employer. This removes any possibility of tamper, and it (should) be a basic request for any remotely decent institution.
    – Nelson
    yesterday
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It should be a perfectly routine matter for any university to send you a transcript or to confirm that a degree was issued. Give them the name that she was using at the time, and they'll find it and mail it to you. But also – what did she do with the diploma when they handed it to her while she was wearing a cap and gown? Where is that piece of paper now?

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  • I have no clue where my physical diplomas are now. Maybe at my folks house, but they had a flood that may have wiped them out. Nobody has every asked for the actual diploma instead of an official transcript.
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 14 at 18:30
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So in my experience in getting international visas, it is a common function of the "Office of the Registrar" in Canadian Universities to send out sealed copies of final transcripts directly to whomever the alum requests. I had to do this to get a work visa in Korea and every other foreign teacher I know had to as well. Usually this fee is in the $30-50 range.

Honestly this seem like a fairly simple thing to sort out using the online portal for the university. It should just be a matter of getting a copy of transcripts ordered to HR or the new hiring manager. There shouldn't be any argument with an original issued directly from the issuing body.

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