In a recent study by Babson Research (1), the number of students taking an online course totals over 7 million, and the proportion of higher education students taking at least one online course is roughly 33 percent. As online courses increase in popularity, the propensity for fraud – both monetary and academic – can also increase. The sheer nature of the student not being present in a controlled testing environment immediately opens the door to academic fraud. The proliferation of these courses combined with the availability of Student Financial Aid for online classes creates another opportunity for Financial Aid Fraud.
Higher Education Institutions are utilizing multiple methods to help prevent fraud in their online course offerings. A first line of defense is verifying that the person applying for financial aid is in fact that person and not a stolen identity. This can be done through an identity verification solution that easily integrates into the online learning platform. These solutions go beyond simple username and password verification and use identity matching, dynamic knowledge based authentication questions, and photo ID verification.
Testing also creates an obvious opportunity for fraud. While financial aid fraud creates monetary damages, academic fraud can create huge reputational damages to the integrity of an institution. Many higher education institutions are using ways to not only verify the identity of the test taker at the start of a test but also intermittently verify the student is taking the test throughout the entire testing period. This is done in a variety of ways including online proctoring, where a proctor verifies the student through a webcam. Online proctoring can also be combined with advanced identity verification methods such as scanning and verifying a passport or driver’s license against the student’s picture captured via webcam. Other methods include Knowledge–Based Authentication (KBA) questions that only that student would be able to answer.
1 – Grade Change, Tracking Online Education in the United States Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman, January 2014 © 2014 Babson Research.