This article is more than 3 years old

Is that a real honorary degree on your CV?

There are always new attempts to sell fake university qualifications. But Paul Greatrix was amazed to find that "Ballsbridge University" in Dominica offering a fake honorary doctorate.
This article is more than 3 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

Degree Mills or Diploma Mills, dodgy organisations pretending to be universities, which sell fake degrees to anyone who wants them, were very much in the news a couple of years ago as I noted in this piece.

We’ve also covered here before, on a number of occasions, fake degrees, made up universities and the involvement of prominent politicians in Pakistan.

A story from back in April 2016 in the New York Times followed an earlier more detailed investigation by the paper and reported on one big degree mill business which then led to prosecutions and a set of fake schools, colleges and university websites being shut down.

But as a File on Four investigation by the BBC demonstrated in 2018, the Diploma Mill business was still booming with lots of interesting universities with very similar websites still around. Whilst these have the features of many real university websites, including lists of courses, alumni information, careers and advice lines to call, descriptions of various other services, they are really very light on actual specifics, details and real names. And they are stuffed with stock photos of happy students. None of them appears to have a meaningful address either.

There are still plenty of them around.

What a racket

Then I noticed this story about the government in Dominica which has expressed concerns about a university distributing fake honorary doctorate degrees in India claiming an affiliation to the Dominican Government.

The origin of these fake degrees is the improbably named Ballsbridge University:

Taking a strict action, Indian Ministry of External Affairs set-up a special team to probe the matter as the university reportedly has its roots in Kollam district of Kerala, India, where various persons were given honorary doctorates in ceremonies mainly conducted in New Delhi.

Dominica’s letter to India has claimed that there is no such institution by the name of “Ballsbridge University” in the capital city Roseau.

The letter further states, “This institution (Ballsbridge University) is not registered in Dominica and it does not have a licence to operate as a Higher Education Institute in Dominica. Further, the government has no affiliation with Ballsbridge University.”

The sources in Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Kerala State Police revealed that in preliminary investigations, some connections have been traced between alleged fraudster Dr Pappachan Baby and Dominican Leader of Opposition, Lennox Linton. The official confirmation of this information is still awaited.

New balls please

Ballsbridge university on its websites ( and claims a connection to the government of Dominica and refers to itself as an “open university.” Here’s a picture of the administrative block.


In addition to its fake “Doctrol” [sic] programme it also has an “Honorary Doctoral Programme”. Imagine that, an actual programme to award honorary degrees.

And according to the WIC news story the “university” has awarded honorary degrees to quite a few prominent individuals in India:

Ballsbridge Society for Education and Research (BSER) which is being operated by Ebenezer Mission International (EMI) Institute, calls itself a non-profit public charitable organization in Kerala and is led by Professor Dr Pappachan Baby.

The group allegedly offers fake accredited higher education awards and courses, stated in association with the Institute of Chartered Professional (ICP), Commonwealth of Dominica and Ballsbridge University.

Dr Pappachan Baby, who also has a strong social media presence where he highlights a number of honorary doctorate degrees that were distributed to people in different convocation ceremonies – mostly in 5-star hotels.

Furthermore, as per the website of the Ballsbridge University, it has come to light that at all the executive members of the University board mostly comprise from one family, the Idahosa family.

It seems incredible that anyone would be taken in by the Ballsbridge website. It has some shockingly edited photos and assembled set of logos of either dodgy or irrelevant agencies which look only vaguely credible.


But the most extraordinary thing – they are awarding fake honorary degrees. If you are going to get an unearned fake degree, then you might as well get one which isn’t already an unearned honorary.

HEDD room

In the UK we do have HEDD, Higher Education Degree Datacheck which offers a centralised system for degree verification that serves employers, agencies, universities, embassies and councils:

It provides enquirers with the ability to verify a candidate’s academic credentials or authenticate a university or college in the UK. The remit of the service is to protect UK universities, employers and graduates from degree fraud.

It’s a key service for testing the validity of awards. HEDD’s services are in great demand though and I’m not sure that the agency’s remit would extend to authenticating honorary degrees…

Cheats will not prosper

But none of this would work unless individuals believed they could cheat the system by acquiring qualifications they hadn’t actually studied for in order to gain advantage. It remains a mystery to me why people think getting a degree without working for it is legitimate or that cheating the education system is somehow acceptable. But credentials do matter. They are the real currency of higher education and we do need to protect their value and employers do need to check the qualifications of applicants. Especially if they claim to have an honorary degree or any other qualification from anywhere with a name anything like Ballsbridge.

10 responses to “Is that a real honorary degree on your CV?

  1. Ballsbridge University is not for profit making establishment. The open university was created to support the less privileged citizens of developing countries. From our experience the school is a quality education provider. All the propaganda and fake letter from Dominica were created by one Jessica norm who is no where to be found. Ballsbridge University is fully registered by CIPO Dominica and provide authentic quality programmes to citizens of developing countries.

    1. Hi sir really sir we are confused we should apply or no I need apply for Bachelor of Architecture in that University how we can know this University is registered in USA

  2. Thanks for reacting, Matthew! Ballsbridge University is worldly recognised for it quality, flexible and afforadable programs. It was noted that the propaganda was politically motivated!

  3. Independent investigations have shown conclusively that Ballsbrigde Univesrity is the foremost research institution and provider of higher education in the world, far superior to universities such as Cabmridge and Harverd. It is shameful that the author would malign the reputation of such a distinguished and reputable contributor to world civilization. Everything negative that has been said about Ballsbrigde is the product of one J. Mephismo, who has never existed in any universe. I have never commented on anything before in my long and storied life, but after reading this false account, I felt compelled to weigh in.

  4. The author who said the university is fake” whst do you mean by fake when a university is accredited by professional and academic bodies? University of the people is an online university. Does it mean it’s fake? Thesame way i studied in the government university is thesame way i studied in Ballsbridge University and more at that, i became a research expert via Ballsbridge University.

  5. All people who got qualifications from Ballsbridge University must verify their qualifications with relevant authorities such as HEDD in UK. If qualifications are fake then University should return fees paid to it. There should be global campaign about any findings from verifying authorities. It is sad for people to be awarded useless fake qualifications. Authorities should not remain silent about this matter. Let qualifications be verified!

    1. Beneficiaries in South Africa must urgently approach Department of Higher Education and Training, SAQA for verifications. All people in South Africa will rally behind victims for their reimbursement if indeed qualifications are fake. This is disturbing news.

  6. Ballsbridge is an internationally recognised university linked to many professional and higher institutions of learning. Their programs are more demanding that some of those so called state universities I have studied. The study program for master and PhD is so hectic than you will expect. A fake university would not have such a rich online library and resources. Look at the textbooks to every program offered by Ballsbridge. Many universities in Africa and developing worlds will not afford that.

    We must understand that this sabotage is not new. Many good institutions have suffered from this too.

  7. Ballsbridge university is a bogus university, Toh you can verify with authority in your country. Thier qualifications are just useless papers. The institution is in the process of reimbursing me after taking legal action against it. No one should deceive people to fall into trap of Ballsbridge University.

    1. Hi Thabo. I earned a degree with Ballsbridge University and the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) told me that the institution is non-existent. This is a huge embarrassment to those who worked hard to achieve these degrees. During our graduation, there was a professor from NWU who did not only endorse the university but chaired the graduation ceremony

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