State Representative Kim Hixson (D-Whitewater) wants to put an end to what he calls “bogus degrees.” Along with State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison), Hixson is a co-author of a bill (AB-624) that would give state law enforcement the tools to prosecute those who sell authentic-looking degree certificates that he says are not worth the paper they’re printed on.

“While these degree mills purport to be from accredited institutions, in reality these schools offer no academic instruction and simply print meaningless pieces of paper that reflect no indication of merit or credibility of the person listed.”

The bill prohibits anyone from knowingly issuing or using a false academic credential. Also, it would prohibit a school from the unauthorized use of the term “college,” “university,” “state,” or “Wisconsin” in its name.

Hixson, a Whitewater Democrat, testifies at a public hearing before the Committee on Colleges and Universities that, in addition to phony degrees, some institutions will lie to an employer checking up on a potential employee’s academic record.

Former University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor John Wiley testifies that most places offering fake degrees are online, but not all. He says he does not want Wisconsin to become the “haven of last resort for these shady actors,” whose intent is to fraudulently certify potential students.

Wiley says diploma mills are making lots of money, citing one online entity that made about $7-to-8 million defrauding students — and some, he says, are financed by the Russian Mafia.

Jackie Johnson report 1:55

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