Can a Distance Education Certificate be Attested for use in Qatar?
When deciding on a degree course to study, your main focus is choosing a quality provider and ensuring that the structure of study will fit in with your life. With so many adults deciding to re-train or boost their expertise around current jobs or family commitments, distance learning qualifications are becoming more and more popular. But what are the pitfalls you may face further down the line?
What is classed as distance learning?
Any study which takes place off-campus, either via online remote learning or, a less popular option these days, via post can be classed as distance learning. In some cases, distance learning can also be applied to face-to-face courses if the study took place in a different country to where the awarding institution is located. For example, you may study at a college in Indonesia for a degree awarded by a UK university.
In some instances, distance learning can also refer to placement studies if you have received no, or little in-person teaching from a course tutor. This tends to apply to degree level awards more so than Master’s, where there is often a lot of time dedicated to research and work experience as part of the study.
There are institutions which solely offer distance learning awards, such as the Open University. Qualifications from the OU have rightly gained wider acceptance and more credence in recent years, having previously been undervalued due to not being studied at “brick universities”.
With this rise in acceptance of distance learning qualifications, more colleges and universities in the UK have started to offer their courses via this method. It allows students the flexibility to decide when and where they study, enabling them to gain more knowledge around their existing commitments.
Usually, getting a job with a distance learning degree should pose no issues. However, if you’re planning to work overseas in the future, it may be worth planning ahead to avoid any problems further down the line.
Can I have a distance learning education certificate attested for Qatar?
The short answer is no.
Not all countries are as ready to give their vote of confidence to distance learning qualifications. If you have a certificate you obtained via a distance learning course, you’ll have issues having it attested if you decide to apply for a position in Qatar.
Since 2016, Qatar have required additional supporting documentation for attesting qualifications of level 5 and above. This includes some diploma awards, degrees and Master’s. With the increased scrutiny of documentation, to enable them to perform more thorough checks on the authenticity of the qualification, came more stringent policies on distance learning.
As part of your attestation, you must provide a letter from the college or university where you studied. This must state explicitly that you studied on campus, face-to-face and where you took the examinations, if applicable. If there was any distance learning involved in your course, even if this was on a part-time basis, be careful of how the letter is worded.
With many years experience in attesting documents for use in Qatar, and a close working relationship with the Qatari Embassy in London, Vital Consular have gained a deep understanding of what will be accepted and how the letter should be phrased. It is always worth perfecting your letter before beginning your attestation, to avoid any loss of money and time having to have your letter re-issued and re-processed after having it rejected by the Embassy.
Why won’t Qatar accept distance learning certificates?
In around 2016, there were widespread issues throughout the Middle Eastern expat recruitment sector. It had been found that there were thousands of expat workers in countries such as Kuwait who had gained employment using fake degree certificates. This was not exclusive to Kuwait, though it seemed the problem was most prevalent within their expat workforce, which makes up a majority of the country’s population.
The issue of fake degrees still hasn’t been eradicated from the Kuwaiti work force, but it’s neighbouring countries, Qatar in particular, took immediate action. In an attempt to make it much more difficult to obtain work permits with fake degrees, the Qatar authorities stepped up the requirements to have documents legalised in their issuing countries.
As part of this, they wanted to ensure that any training and education received by those joining the Qatari expat workforce was of good quality and befitting of the job they were applying for. Now this incorrectly suggests that distance learning isn’t quality learning, but I feel that from the perspective of the Qatar authorities, it is much easier to monitor the study and progress of students through face-to-face learning than that of students off-campus. It’s possible to verify that the student is the one attending the course and submitting their own work when a tutor is having regular contact with them.
Although we have come to recognise that a distance learning degree has as much value as those studied as a brick university, there is still a nervousness from some overseas authorities relating to this mode of study.
What are the requirements for attesting a degree certificate for Qatar?
In order to have a degree over other higher education award attested for use in Qatar, you will need to be able to provide the original certificate, a transcript of results if available and a supporting letter from the college or university where you studied. This letter must meet the criteria set by the Qatari authorities, proving you studied an in-person course, where you studied, for how long, and the grades you received.
To read more about the supporting documents you require, as well as the exact wording which must be included, you can read our complete guide here.