Plagiarism Epidemic Forces Program Shutdown

By - Aug 4, 10:24 AM Comments [0]

New Jersey’s Centenary College will be shutting down its Asian MBA program because of widespread plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct, reports an Inside Higher Ed article “Policing Plagiarism Abroad.” The 400 students who study at the branch programs in Taiwan, Beijing, and Shanghai will need to choose between receiving a tuition refund and taking an exam that, upon passing, will award students with a degree. So far, only two students have opted for the exam.

Some people are surprised at the measures Centenary has taken, to close the program despite the significant cash flow that comes in from running such a program “You don’t want to be too persnickety or you lose the revenue that comes from these programs,” explains Kathryn Mohrman, director of the University Design Consortium.

Many believe that China’s reputation for research misconduct and plagiarism will “hamper the rise of Chinese universities.” The Inside Higher Ed piece points to an inordinate number of recent articles that discuss this issue. Both students and their host academic institutions are being blamed for what’s been likened to a plagiarism “epidemic.” How to “treat” this problem is the source of much debate. Building teacher-student trust, highlighting the importance of learning for learning’s sake, and addressing specific cultural attitudes towards citation and towards misconduct are all avenues that need to be examined in tackling the problem of academic misconduct at international branch programs and amongst foreign students studying in the U.S.

To tackle the problem of conforming to a widely-accepted conduct standard, Michael Smithee, and international higher education consultant says:

You’ve got to be willing to repeat how you approach cheating and what cheating is, and be very clear, every time, so that by the time the course is done, the students will be tired of hearing it. And if they’re tired of hearing it, it probably means that they understand it a little more.

To reinforce this issue to students is crucial; but the fact that teachers and institutional culture play a part in fostering a plagiarism-heavy atmosphere also cannot be denied. According to Teddi Fishman, director of the International Center for Academic Integrity, “[I]f you have a problem this large, it’s not just the student and it’s not just the teacher.”

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