A THIRD of employers assume job applicants are telling the truth about their degree and do not ask to see proof of their qualifications, according to new research.

And many of those that do ask to see certificates take them at face value, failing to check with universities that they are correct.

The Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD), which conducted the study, said that most degree fraud goes undetected because businesses do not make proper checks, and warned that firms should not simply assume would-be workers are being honest about their qualifications.

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Separate research published by HEDD - a government-backed online degree verification service - earlier this year found that a third of job applicants admit to lying on their CV.

The latest study, which questioned 106 employers, found that fewer than two thirds (62 per cent) said that they request degree certificates or transcripts from at least some candidates, with a third (33%) saying that they do not do so.

Of those that do ask to see proof, around 65 per cent said that they only accept original documents, while 32 per cent said they ask for originals or photocopies.

Less than a fifth (19 per cent) revealed that they check certificates and transcripts with the university than issued them, with the vast majority (76 per cent) admitting that they do not verify documents.

HEDD director Jayne Rowley said: "Most degree fraud goes undetected due to the lack of proper checks being made by employers.

"While many businesses - particularly when recruiting graduates - invest significantly in sophisticated application tracking, assessment centres, psychometric testing and so on, few verify qualifications as part of that process.

"Many of us want to believe that people are telling the truth, so we place our trust in references, applications and interviews. With a low perception of the frequency and risks of qualification fraud it's easy to become complacent. But some people are unscrupulous and looking to take advantage. If someone is lying about their qualifications, we have to question their overall integrity as a potential employee.

"It's important to request original degree certificates and check them out with the university that issued them. Many certificates look legitimate yet have subjects and grades altered as well as totally fabricated universities and courses."