Iraq has called on its cultural attaché in Beirut to investigate the alleged sale of “hundreds” of fake Lebanese university diplomas to Iraqis, including parliamentarians.
“At least three private Lebanese universities are involved,” an Iraqi academic source who asked to remain anonymous told AFP on Thursday.
Lebanese authorities have also launched an investigation into degrees sold to Iraqis enrolled in distance learning courses, the source said.
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Several lawmakers and senior officials paid to obtain a master’s degree or doctorate, especially on religious issues, according to another Iraqi official who also requested anonymity.
The fake degrees, numbering in their hundreds, cost “between $ 5,000 for a master’s degree and $ 10,000 for a doctorate,” the official added.
Higher education is often a prerequisite for coveted government positions in Iraq.
The cultural attaché, Hashem al-Shammari, has been summoned to Baghdad, Haidar al-Aboudi, a spokesman for higher education ministry, told AFP.
According to Lebanese media reports, Lebanon’s Islamic University – affiliated with the country’s Supreme Islamic Shiite Council – has fired its president and four department heads for the scandal.
Lebanon has 36 private universities, including prestigious institutions such as the American University of Beirut.
It also has many institutions with religious affiliations authorized by the government after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.
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