While Axact claims to be the world’s leading IT company as suggested by its slogan, most of its office floors (at least in Defence) are occupied with agents, who operate in the Middle East region luring Arab/international individuals with certified US degrees on the basis of their professional experiences.
These degrees range from Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD (Axact even prepares a thesis for you, if you don’t have enough time or skills!).
Agents are advised to use Bayt.com or LinkedIn as a source to find customers, who are in turn told that either of these organisations forwarded their profile for consultations.
As a matter of fact, while I was working at Axact, Bayt.com – the largest job search engine in Middle East – warned Axact not to use their name as a source. We were then advised to use LinkedIn or else manipulate the script somehow.
Axact agents tell customers the main reason why big corporations do not hire them is the absence of a degree that they can get while sitting at home.
The script read like: “You don’t have to take classes or listen to online lectures, or take pains for admissions and other documented procedures. Just log on to our university website and our Senior Academic Officer will enrol you. It takes less than five minutes and you receive internationally certified/attested degree within a couple of months solely based on your professional experience.”
Indeed, there is no criterion for professional experience of the applicant. You may even get a PhD degree with as minimum as one year of experience. It is all situational and manipulative. The only thing that matters is paying the enrolment fee, and then continuing to pay until your accounts are squeezed dry.
Once a customer pays the enrolment fee, he is in the trap. Now, senior agents (closers) would call him from time to time asking more and more money for attestations from embassies concerned and/or shipment charges.
It was quite an embarrassing and decisive day for me to quit Axact when a customer was probably fed up with paying extra attestation/registration fee. The senior agent asked him to wait for a moment so they could bring Mr ABC from the Egyptian embassy on a conference call to guide him further as to why that attestation was mandatory.
Indeed, there was no one from Egyptian embassy. Rather, it was one of senior Axact agents who spoke like native Arabs. He sat beside the agent who was already on phone and pretended to be talking from the embassy. They ultimately got him to pay more for that attestation.
This is one out of hundreds of calls each day.
As for the universities that offer degrees on basis of professional experience, they all are virtual and have no physical address though they appear to be located in the US (and so do the agents tell the customers). According to the NYT report, these university websites are registered in Cyprus and Latvia.
The punch line for all this business is “a degree solely based on professional experience”. An idea that dates back to the end of World War II, when many retired soldiers were jobless and the US government issued special provisions allowing soldiers to obtain academic degrees on basis of their experience.
Whatever I have said above is, I say on oath, 100% true. I have tried to give a neutral inside picture and want the readers to decide whether it is legal or not. This is what has been going on at Axact for years.
I left Axact within a month of my joining the sales department. According to the agreement, we were bound not to disclose the nature of our job as people generally cannot understand it.
Today, all I want is proper investigations that can declare this creepy business as legal or illegal and take action accordingly since it is a matter of Pakistan’s reputation in the entire world and it is about education, the holiest of human professions.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2015.