Iraq has summoned its cultural attache in Beirut for an investigation into the alleged sale of “hundreds” of fake Lebanese university degrees to Iraqis, including MPs.
“At least three private Lebanese universities are implicated,” an Iraqi academic source, who requested to remain anonymous, told AFP on Thursday.
Lebanese authorities have also launched an investigation into degrees sold to Iraqis enrolled in remote learning courses, the source said.
Several MPs and high-ranking officials paid to obtain master’s or doctorate degrees, particularly in religious subjects, 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 Ph.D.”, the official added.
Higher education degrees are often a prerequisite for coveted government posts in Iraq.
The cultural attache, Hashem al-Shammari, has been summoned to Baghdad, higher education ministry spokesman Haidar al-Aboudi told AFP.
According to Lebanese media reports, the Islamic University of Lebanon — affiliated with the country’s Supreme Islamic Shia Council — has sacked its president and four department heads over 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 authorised by the government after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.