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University of Malaya, Malaysia's oldest public university has recently deployed a new system for issuing graduation certificate named e-scroll (it seems be the 1st university in the world to deploy e-scroll system). Under this new system, university will not issue any hard copy scroll (graduation certificate or degree) and instead provides a website from which graduates can download their electronically signed and timestamped degree in pdf format which can be printed out.

According to one of the officials, UM aims to produce digital degree certificates or E-Scrolls for its graduates to avoid forgery of certificate and ease employment process.

Some parts of the above links are here:

E-Scrolls now work exceptionally well for online applications or for employers who like to verify the authenticity of an applicant’s qualifications. When employers click on an E-Scroll, a PDF document containing the applicant’s degree certificate opens up. A verification tab will automatically pop up indicating that the digital certificate is verified and authentic. If information on the scroll has been modified, the verification tab will show up in red, indicating some form of tampering. They can also manually click on the digital signature panels to gain technical information on the certificate and signatories.

“UM also provides an alternate method of verification for its graduates through the Registry of Graduates website that contains the list of graduates,

According other fellows in the above links

The security of E-Scroll is based on a technology called Public Key Infrastructure. This is a proven technology that is widely used by governments worldwide to protect the e-passport, citizen identification cards, and by the financial institutions to secure transactions and online banking

Here and here are some articles discussion in depth about e-scroll and technology behind it.

Here is they problem: UM will NOT issue any hard copy scroll anymore meaning that we are unable to present original degree that is printed on a thick paper, has 3d stamp, and has hologram. Instead they issue a pdf that has some note on it and provide access to a website to show its authenticity.

If UM had both of the certificates, it would be wonderful since it satisfies both concern; those who need original degree and those who want to verify authenticity of the degree.

My question:

  1. How easy would it be to convince officials to accept such a e-scroll?
  2. Imagine a visa officer at port who wants to verify student's document before entry. If we tell him so, how likely is that he agrees? and he goes to his computer and opens the website? How can we say that the website is not fake? Manipulating university websites is not harder that forging a degree, I guess.
  3. Even if people trust the website and agree on usefulness of this approach, how practical it is that we expect governments to change their employment, verification, or other policies?

For instance, in my country, all degrees obtained from foreign countries must be take to the ministry of higher education for validation. Upon successful validation, the government party issue degree equivalency. Now here is the point that how easy is that for us to ask ministries to change their verification and validation process?

What is the best way to talk to University officials and ask them to issue both?

Do you know, as admission committee member or university administrates, what other problems new students graduated form UM will face in your university?

Here is the sample e-scroll enter image description here

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    I know that this isn't the point of your question, but what makes you think UM is the "1st university in the world"? According to Wikipedia, UM was founded 1949, which makes it a pretty young university all things considered. – xLeitix Feb 8 '15 at 10:47
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    Thanks for hint. Not the 1st university in the world, but the 1st that deploys the e-scroll according to the online articles.I edited my question. – Espanta Feb 8 '15 at 10:50
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    Unrelated comment but, why is not the major of the person mentioned in his degree certificate? Only a PhD title? PhD in what? – Enthusiastic Engineer Feb 8 '15 at 10:53
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    To my university, which I tend to agree, PhD is PhD no matter in what. Saying PhD in something is wrong. They may say what is your research area and you reply CS or IT or ... – Espanta Feb 8 '15 at 10:54
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    I have no idea whether this would be accepted at most universities. I have never understood why universities in 2015 would still rely on pieces of paper printed in a sophisticated way rather than just communicating with the issuing organisation if there is doubt about whether the candidate actually has the degree (s)he claims to have. – xLeitix Feb 8 '15 at 14:03
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Before getting to the answer, I want to recount a related story. As an undergraduate due to some bureaucratic issues I attended graduation even though I wasn't graduating. I should have been handed an empty diploma tube, but they screwed up. A week later I received a desperate phone call from the registrar's office. The conversation went something like this:

RO: We need you to return your diploma since you did not graduate

ME: No, I like having it and you are going to give it to me anyway at the end of the summer

RO: It won't have the right date on it and when an employer asks to see the diploma it won't match your transcript and that will cause problems

ME: Not a problem, I will just forge a diploma then

RO: We really need it back

ME: I don't have it any more. I gave it to my mother since she paid my tuition. You can try calling her and asking for it, but I don't think you will have much luck

I still have not had to forge my diploma with the correct date on it or even show my diploma to anyone. Almost everything can be accomplished with either a non digitally signed pdf of my transcript, a unofficial printed version of my transcript, or an official transcript sent by the university directly to the individual that needs it. The only issue I can see with having only an e-transcript/diploma would be if the university stopped supporting the format. I would simply request a digital one at graduation and print it out for your records.

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I have never in my life used the hard copy of any of my degrees. If people wish to verify, they generally contact the university in any case. I thus anticipate no issue at all in a switch to electronic degree certificates.

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    However, I remember twice wanted to get UK visa and both times they asked me (and everybody else in the planet) to submit the original degrees not the notarised or certified ones. Even Canada asked my original IELTS though they could have verified the copy. They took original and never return it. – Espanta Feb 9 '15 at 0:49
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    I've never needed the hard copy of my Ph.D. diploma, but I know someone who was required to bring his to a prospective employer --- and then the employer objected because it was in Latin. – Andreas Blass Feb 9 '15 at 1:03
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    @Espanta I can foresee this is a fairly major issue. I have personal experience of the intransigence of UK Visas & Immigration, and they will use any excuse to reject an application. There is no easy answer here, but I suspect that at least the High Commission in Malaysia will have to accept it eventually. – MJeffryes Jun 11 '15 at 13:39
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    My diploma is 18 inches by 23 inches (46cm x 58cm) and is printed on sheepskin, as in the skin of a sheep. It's actually larger than that, since it's been framed. There's no way I'm taking it anywhere. – shoover Apr 6 '16 at 15:27

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