The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted a Recommendation addressed to its 46 member states aimed at assisting them in combating fraud in the field of education.
The recommendation follows four years of work in the framework of the ETINED platform of the Council of Europe on ethics, integrity, and transparency in education, and addresses the need for a common European approach in this field.
This new legal standard is structured in four dimensions: prevention, prosecution, international cooperation, and monitoring. The text makes six main recommendations to member States of the Council of Europe:
- to promote quality education by eliminating education fraud;
- to protect pupils, students, researchers, and staff at all levels of education from organisations and individuals engaged in selling (and advertising) fraudulent services;
- to provide support for the implementation of preventative and protective measures, as well as a culture of equality of opportunity at all levels and in all sectors of education and training and in the transition between these sectors;
- to monitor technological developments that could support new forms of fraud;
- to facilitate international cooperation in the field;
- to support wide dissemination of the recommendation.
It includes definitions, commonly agreed at European level, of education fraud, plagiarism and different types of providers of fraudulent documents such as diploma, accreditation and visa “mills” as well as essay banks.
Education is meant in its broader scope, with all measures contained in the text applying to access to education and all levels and forms of education, offline and online, from pre-primary to higher education, including vocational education and lifelong learning.
One of the key recommendations is to minimise the advertising of fraudulent services, which is exacerbated by the use of the web and of social media. International cooperation is considered as essential in this direction, for setting up a process of monitoring national and transnational fraudulent activities and information exchange.