The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) has sanctioned a former candidate who admitted forging a qualification certificate and using it to gain employment.
The candidate said they created the fraudulent document to support a job application, in which they had falsely claimed they were a gold standard NCTJ qualified journalist. The fraudulent document was created from an image of a genuine certificate that had been posted online.
The fraud was discovered after a database check revealed that, though enrolled on two accredited courses, the candidate had never sat any NCTJ assessments. The candidate accepted their behaviour constituted malpractice under the NCTJ’s malpractice and maladministration policy.
The candidate told the investigation team they had panicked after being accepted for their ‘dream job’ and that they wished to complete the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism qualification in the future.
After confirming the decision to impose a five-year ban on sitting any NCTJ exams/assessments and on taking part in any other NCTJ-related activities, Rachel Manby, head of awarding at the NCTJ, said: “This was an unprecedented case of qualification fraud and the sanction goes some way to reflect the seriousness and acute dismay with which the NCTJ views the behaviour of the individual concerned.
“It not only constitutes a blatant deception to gain employment but betrays the commitment, hard work and honesty of the thousands of candidates who every year sit rigorous examinations to earn kite-mark qualifications which reflect their talent and dedication and give potential employers continuing trust in the quality of NCTJ applicants.
“Though extremely rare, instances of such serious malpractice cannot be allowed in any way to compromise the validity of certificates or the trust employers are entitled to hold in the integrity of the NCTJ’s regulated qualifications.
“The NCTJ carefully considered all relevant information before reaching its decision and imposing the sanction that was considered appropriate in all the circumstances. The ban of five years should be taken as an indication of the seriousness of the offence and the NCTJ’s determination to treat any similar breaches with the harshness they deserve.
“It also carries a restriction of such length so as to not disbar the individual from a future career which carries the distinction of an NCTJ qualification, should they pursue it.
“The NCTJ has introduced QR codes on all our certificates to further protect their security and to allow employers to authenticate them online. However, it is strongly recommended that employers also contact us directly to verify NCTJ qualifications achieved by prospective employees, to ensure this incident cannot be repeated.”