The University of South Africa (Unisa) has intercepted fake matric certificates from desperate and aspirant applicants who registered with the institution this year.
Head of admissions at Unisa, Gherhardt Waldeck, said this year they had detected 25 fake certificates, the highest ever recorded by the distance-learning institution.
He said five of the students had been found guilty by the institution during a hearing and once the remaining 20 had been subjected to a hearing the matter would be handed over to the police.
"Because we have a zero tolerance policy, we plan to prosecute all of the culprits," he said.
The forged certificates were submitted by students applying for admission this year.
"While some were of a reasonably good quality the overwhelming majority were poorly made, usually on a PC with a colour printer," Waldeck said.
He said he was surprised by the avalanche of false and forged certificates that had been submitted to the university by students who wanted to register.
Waldeck said the forging of degrees was also on the increase.
He said there was growing evidence that organised crime syndicates were involved in forging degrees and diplomas.
"One of the reasons it is important to expose students' applications with forged certificates is part of the effort by the university to ensure that the first-year dropout rate is decreased."