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UN not offering BSc, MSc, PhD scholarships as claimed in this Facebook post

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Claim: A sponsored Facebook post claims that the United Nations is offering fully funded BSc, MSc and PhD scholarships for international students to study in Canada, USA, Australia or Japan. 

There is no relationship between the claim and the United Nations or any of its affiliate institutions. The post is, therefore, a SCAM to trap unsuspecting students yearning to study abroad. 

Full Text

A post which was boosted through a Facebook sponsored ad stated that the United Nations (UN) is offering fully funded BSc, MSc and PhD scholarships for international students to study in Canada, USA, Australia or Japan. 

The copy of the e-flyer used for the promotion further claims that the scholarship covers full tuition, accommodation and health insurance. 

It further emphasised that all nationalities are eligible to apply as there are no agents involved and the application process is easy. 

With high tuition fees, a study abroad option is unaffordable for most Nigerians. 

According to research by the International Institute of Education, the average cost of studying abroad in a foreign country hovers around $18,000 per semester, or $36,000 per full academic year.

As a result, many Nigerian students are on International Scholarships for African students such as the Chevening Scholarship, Commonwealth Scholarship among others, to be able to achieve their study abroad dream.  

Verification

First, this fact-checker examined the Facebook Page which sponsored the claim, dubbed “Scholarship Portal,” and observed that it uses a profile picture that carries the UN logo and inscription boldly written, “UN Scholarships.” 

Using the InVID verifier, a forensic examination of the image was undertaken and the result reveals a heavy double quantization (double JPEG image) that exposes the image manipulation and shows the doctored parts. 

Furthermore, a google reverse image search did not associate the photo to the United Nations or any of its affiliate institutions. This is in addition to suspicious comments being posted on the page’s posts. 

Verifying further, PRNigeria visited the official website of the United Nations and surfing through reveals that the UN has the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI)  initiative that aligns institutions of higher education with the United Nations in supporting and contributing to the realization of United Nations goals and mandates, including the promotion and protection of human rights, access to education, sustainability and conflict resolution with vibrant and diverse network of students, academics, scientists, researchers, think tanks, institutions of higher education, continuing education and educational associations in over 1400 member institutions in more than 147 countries that reach over 25 million people in the education and research sectors around the world. 

Under this initiative, the only scholarship information listed under the ‘scholarship and contest’ page include: Nuclear Safety Essay Competition for Students and Early Career Professionals, United Nations Access to Space for All Initiative: Fellowship Programme for “Drop Tower Experiment Series (DropTES)”, “What if – Spesterra” Youth Video Challenge, 2021 Global Media Competition on Labour Migration, and the UCL Open: Environment Calls for Papers concerned with theme of water, none of which has a correlation with a graduate or postgraduate scholarship for study in any country. 

Further google search engine verification reveals that the global body has a United Nations University which is the academic and research arm of the United Nations. Headquartered in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, with diplomatic status as a U.N. institution and a mission to help resolve global issues related to human development and welfare through collaborative research and education.

Under its Scholarships and Funding page, it states clearly that Scholarship opportunities vary for each degree programme and the procedure for benefitting from it is that requests must be submitted with the programme application documents. 

Conclusion

Forensic examination of images using cross-referencing, and examination of official channels reveals a lack of correlation between the claim and the UN or its affiliates. Based on this, it is concluded that the post is intended to trap unsuspecting students yearning to travel abroad and is therefore a SCAM. 

The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with PRNigeria to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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