Certify Your Degree – Original or Copy? Open letter to Southampton University. Maybe others.
Last Weeks’s Blog dealt with the ins and outs of the Notarisation of University Degrees and other Educational Certificates.
This is – or should be – the process by which a Notary checks that your Certificate is genuine, then endorses a copy of it accordingly, before sending the marked copy for Apostille and/or other Consular stamps.
And I say copy – usually it is a copy. Because by making and marking a copy, this leaves the student holding his original, unmarked, Degree certificate.
However, some countries specifically require that it is the ORIGINAL award certificate which must be notarised and submitted to prospective employers. The United Arab Emirates often make this a requirement and there are others.
Then what is a student to do? If they want the job, they’d better do as they are told.
So they go ahead and their original degree certificate, notarially marked and verified, goes to be stored in the records of UAE.
Next, a few years down the line the student may wish to take a job in a different country.
And that different country requires a notarised verified copy of the original degree certificate.
But hang on, you gave that to the UAE and you can’t get it back. Or, even if you can, the original certificate has got notary stamps on it from years ago and the stamp of the FCO and of the United Arab Emirates Consulate and that may be unacceptable to the country where you want to work now.
So the student will need to apply to the University, for a clean replacement Degree certificate. Shouldn’t be a problem.
As soon as you even think the words – “this shouldn’t be a problem”, you just know there will be a problem.
Here is a link to the website of Southampton University – Link here –
Specifically, we are told “If the original certificate has been lost, stolen or damaged, you can apply for a replacement. This will state ‘Replacement Certificate issued’ at the bottom of the certificate, and will have a different audit number which will automatically invalidate the original certificate.”
You would hope a University would be careful and think matters through a little more cogently than that. Not to say, more helpfully to its students.
Southampton seems to be saying – you cannot have a replacement certificate if you already hold the original. Unless it accepts that by being notarised, stamped by FCO and the UAE consulate, it has been “damaged”,
Has it? I don’t think so.
But there is surely a wider issue.
If I own a house or a car I do not expect the Land Registry or DVLA to quibble about issuing proof – office copies- v5 – as often as I see fit to request it. Nor would they.
If I spend five years or seven getting a degree or PHD, the degree is mine. By which I mean the qualification, not the piece of paper.
Students having given the matter all that time and energy to obtain a Degree and paying the University several thousand pounds these days to get it, it is surely unacceptable if the University believes that “title” to the degree vests in the sheet of paper?
If their “Replacement” footmark is not intended in some way to de-value the replacement certificate, then what is it for? Who in their view should care whether it is a replacement?
Perhaps the case could be put to the Vice Chancellor that the University owes to its students unqualified assistance in proving that they hold the qualification which the University has awarded.
If it seeks to impose conditions inconsistent with requirements of the potential employers of those students abroad [however misguided in our eyes] it does the student a significant disservice and eventually if words gets round that any particular University is obstructive it may eventually find itself short of students?
Nor do I understand how the issue of a replacement can actually “invalidate the original” whatever Southampton University might say on its website. If I have a degree then I do have a degree. So how can the first certificate be “invalid?”
I suppose they mean that they will not confirm the original to be genuine if it is thereafter copied to them for verification. Are they entitled to do that? It could cost a student hugely. Could a student not sue them if they did?
Funny old world, isn’t it? Link Here – Bit of a Nightmare?
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