$4,000 fine for NUS dropout who forged degree certificate to get part-time teaching job

Xie Xin applied for a part-time teaching job using a certificate he had forged with Photoshop. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - In a bid to land a part-time teaching job at an international school, a 30-year-old man forged a National University of Singapore (NUS) degree certificate, even though he had not completed his studies at the university.

Chinese national Xie Xin was fined $4,000 on Friday (Dec 11), after pleading guilty to one count of fraudulently using a forged document as a genuine one.

Court documents state that Xie, a permanent resident here, was admitted as an NUS student on Aug 1, 2011.

But he withdrew from his studies on April 18, 2016, and did not complete the requirements to get a degree.

Around the middle of that year, Xie downloaded an image of an NUS certificate for a computer engineering degree and inserted his name onto it using image-editing tool Photoshop.

He was reinstated as a student after a successful appeal on Jan 13, 2017, but was academically dismissed about five months later after failing to meet examination regulations.

On Nov 14, 2018, Xie applied in person for a part-time teaching job at Ascensia International School through an introduction by another part-time teacher at the school. He was interviewed by a member of its staff on the same day.

The next day, he submitted to Ascensia the degree certificate he had forged in support of his job application and interview.

Xie later accepted a contract of service with the school for the period between Nov 15, 2018 and Dec 31, 2019.

On Feb 14, 2019, he was told by a human resources executive of Ascensia, who was tasked to process his application, to sign a document called "Lecturer Declaration Form and Verification of Certificate Authenticity".

But he hesitated and asked if he could use his A-level certificate as part of his job application instead of the forged degree certificate.

He also submitted a statement to the school four days later, saying he had not completed his final-year project at NUS and had not "fully-graduated yet" but will finish his studies when ready.

The executive then contacted NUS to verify the authenticity of Xie's degree certificate. The university replied that the forged document did not match any of its graduates' records.

A police report was made by an NUS employee on March 5, 2019, and Xie was dismissed from the school on March 14 that year.

Xie initially told the police that the forged certificate was a photograph of the original one shown to him by a member of the NUS staff, but eventually admitted to the forgery.

According to court documents, the school may still have hired Xie if he had submitted his valid A-level certificate, though at a lower salary scale.

For his offence, Xie could have been jailed for up to four years, in addition to being fined.

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