Secondary education documents

Secondary education diplomas state the subjects that the student has passed, with the examination results. In some cases, a pupil may have attained different diplomas at different points in time and/or from different examining boards. This is because pupils are permitted to sit subject-specific exams for both the GCSE and GCE exams and can add examination subjects by sitting additional exams each year.

Higher education documents

Higher education diplomas:

  • always state the name of the degree or certificate;
  • do not always state the name of the degree programme.

It is important to check the information concerning the programme and the subjects taken. Usually you can find this information in:

  • a list of subjects, the academic record (transcript);
  • a diploma supplement; or
  • a Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).

In the list of subjects from a recognised degree programme:

  • 'awarding institution' features the name of the institution that granted the degree;
  • 'teaching institution' features the name of the institution that taught the programme.

Please note: these can be 2 different institutions. See also Collaboration with partner institutions.

Diploma supplement

The international diploma supplement has not yet been implemented everywhere. The British version of this is the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).

You can find more information about the Diploma Supplement (DS) on the Europass website, including examples of diploma supplements.

Verification of a diploma

Verification via the educational institution

If you have doubts about a diploma, you can ask the British higher education institution where it was obtained to verify its authenticity. In most cases however this does require written permission from the graduate concerned.

Verification via databases/registers

There are a number of other possibilities for verifying diplomas.

  • Via the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) website, you can check whether a given institution is government-recognised, free of charge. You can also use the website to find more information on name changes of and mergers between educational institutions since 1990. It is also possible to purchase additional information, such as to check which diploma was awarded to a particular student.
  • To verify the authenticity of Cambridge certificates, consult the CIE Direct database, which is available free of charge for higher education institutions. For more information about the use of this database, read the CIE Direct - a guide for Universities.
  • For information on professional qualifications, you can consult professional bodies and registers such as those for teachers, nurses or engineers.