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Debunked: Posts advertising free online further education certificate courses are a scam

Scam posts promise students free laptops, clothing, bags, or books.

A SERIES OF scam ads for online, third-level courses have been promoted on social media in recent months, with many of the posts claiming laptops and other benefits will be provided to people who sign up.

“Official announcement,” one such post begins.

“People between 18 and 65 years old can get free online university courses offered jointly by five major institutions, including University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and National University of Ireland Galway!”, it continues, using an old name for University of Galway.

“The courses provide laptops and you can receive the corresponding certificate in four weeks!”

This post is false, as are other variations that The Journal has found, sometimes featuring logos of major companies or seals of the government of Ireland or government departments.

A spokesperson for University of Galway said: “The ad is clearly bogus – we have been known as University of Galway since 2022. Anyone who sees this ad should disregard it.”

Many of these posts promise that people who sign up will receive free materials, such as laptops, clothing, bags, or books, and many of the posts direct users to different sites with almost identical names, such as — though the number is different on each post.

In many cases the posts use names that are out of date, such as the use of University of Ireland, Galway, as well as a seal for the Department of Education and Skills, an obsolete name for the Department of Education.

The Department of Further and Higher Education told The Journal that the posts were not from them and that they “have no such courses on offer”.

Other organisations featured in the posts also denied any involvement.

“TU Dublin was established on the 1 January 2019, meaning brands associated with our legacy institutes, including Dublin Institute of Technology, have not been in use in over five years,” a representative told The Journal in response to one such ad that featured the logo for Dublin Institute of Technology.

Trinity College Dublin told The Journal that the ads were “certainly not genuine”, though noted that its library does lend laptops free of charge to their staff and students.

Other organisations also associated with arranging training were also targeted in these ads, including one offering a free Physiotherapist Assistant training programme.

“These adverts are definitely not from, or endorsed by, the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists and we would urge people to report them,” a representative from the groups said. “The logo being presented is out of date.”

“To become a Physiotherapist Assistant requires at least one year of training at QQI level 5 and it cannot be completed online in two months.”

The Journal’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here.