Chinese international students cheat their way through university

The latest data from the Department of Education revealed a massive boom in Chinese international student enrolments, whose numbers have roughly doubled over the past six years to 240,000:

One nasty side-effect of this boom has been the surge in contract cheating services, as revealed in several reports over many years.

For instance, “functionally illiterate“ Chinese students were implicated in an elaborate ghost-writing scandal in 2014.

And this year, reports of Chinese students cheating via ghost writing services emerged again, first in July and most recently over the weekend at The ABC:

Search ‘Australian universities ghostwriting’ in Chinese and up come websites for large service providers. At least 34 of them are accessible on Google. And they all promise to take the drudgery out of study by completing assessments for the student — for a fee…

With no brands, nor websites, they reach the Chinese students mostly through WeChat. Some are shared among students by word of mouth…

As a solo ghostwriter, David [a Chinese contract cheating provider] does not belong to an agency but rather deals directly with clients who are mainly Chinese students from business-related majors at Monash University and RMIT University…

David introduced me to Kelvin…[who] led a collective of four to five Chinese students who served students from information technology, architecture, finance, and business majors at RMIT University, Holmes Institute, Victoria University and Charles Sturt University…

He said during the exam period, his team usually had 20 to 30 orders, and he once earned $2,800 in a single month by writing 10 assignments.

Kelvin told me many contract cheating services promoted on WeChat were disguised as assignment help or tutoring services.

“Needless to say,” he said, “they are all ghostwriters”…

Wang — not her real name — is doing a bachelor’s degree in Melbourne. She’s from China and attributes her decision to cheat partly to an inadequacy with written English, but mostly to “laziness”.

She told me that so far, she’s used the service four times at a cost of $700 and she’s never been suspected of fraud.

“The university students that I am acquainted with … almost all of them have used contract cheating services once or more and haven’t been caught,” she said.

“This becomes a culture of international students.”

Chen, a Chinese master’s student who has graduated from the same university and also used a pseudonym, estimated about half of the students in her major had used the service. As for the university students she was acquainted with, it was 80 to 90 per cent…

David told me he knew contract cheating was wrong, but said he also “felt at ease and justified because everyone else is dishonest.”

Cheating by Chinese students appears to be a global phenomenon given similar scandals were exposed in New Zealand (e.g. here, here and here) as well as the United States (here).

The reason for such widespread cheating by Chinese students is cultural, according to the NY Times:

In China, academic journals are riddled with plagiarism. A professor in China tells National Public Radio that about 30 percent of submissions to the Journal of Zhejiang University-Science was drawn from heavily plagiarized research.

In China, rip-offs of all sorts are common… Yet copying, whether a painting or a literary work, has a long tradition in China. It was a way of learning, of showing admiration and respect…

Whatever the reasons, the proliferation of cheating at our universities is a disgrace and is severely undermining the integrity of Australia’s higher education system.

How our universities and policy makers respond to this evidence will be a litmus test. Will they crack down and severely punish the perpetrators (both the contract cheating providers and users), or will they turn a blind eye in order to keep the student fees rolling in? I wager on the latter.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Immigration agents are also helping to provide assignments for students on their books. A friend who teaches in a business school had Chinese student hand in a bunch of assignments for the wrong course. When she informed him of the mistake he opened a folder flicked through a bunch of assignments and pulled out the correct assignments.Another student hadn’t even bothered to change the name on the front of an assignment they handed in. Teaching staff copping pressure from management to just pass all the students regardless.

    • Almost nobody speaks out these days – not because they’re cowards – but because of career risk.

      The attitude is: keep your head down, say nothing. Only fifteen years to retirement …

      • Re coward vs career risk, i guess its pragmatism. Knowing theres always someone in the wings with lower standards than you. Probably its all academic. And there aint no standards anymore.

        • Things move in cycles and I think the bottom line is we’re just at / near the peak of another hedonistic period, where wealth (and fame) is worshipped, materialism rules, moral values are degraded and corruption becomes endemic. It’s what felled the Roman Empire and the Roaring ’20s was inevitably followed by the Great Depression. The 3 or 4 decades leading up to today have seen extraordinary advances in (optical) wealth and living standards but it has been debt driven and a period of enforced austerity (economic depression) beckons. It is what it is.

      • THIS.
        Unless one has very little to lose and is already close to retirement; it really is not worth the pain.
        One or two or half a dozen academics are not going to stop the Billion Dollar International Student Juggernaut no matter how messed up and dysfunctional the whole thing is.
        Only a Royal Commission might come close to sorting out this mess.

  2. It is the tip of a poo-burg and very poorly kept secret. The luvvies of the Left have created such an infected discourse that it has been impossible to discuss issues like this sensibly. None of it is pleasant, but it has been made impossible to deal with by an ideological fixation on race rather than culture. In some cultures cheating and corruption is endemic and expected and what we have succeeded in doing is bringing it to Australia where it is infecting everyone.

    Australia is running an education scam and the scammers are getting scammed by people who are experts at this. Those who live under an oppressive regime live by working the system that appears to outsiders to be rigorous, but is a sham that operates via systemic corruption and kickbacks. Ask anyone from the ex-Soviet Union. That’s how it works in China.

    Gee, the next big surprise will be that Chinese crime gangs have set up gambling stings in Australia and are using debt carrying mugs to do their dirty work. Shock horror. Who could have seen that coming?

    • ” In some cultures cheating and corruption is endemic”
      Quite, and for good reason. If you don’t do it you’ll likely die in the gutter, and others will strip your dead body of your possessions.
      How long until it becomes the norm in this neck of the woods?

      • “Cheating by Chinese students appears to be a global phenomenon given similar scandals were exposed in New Zealand (e.g. here, here and here) as well as the United States (here).

        The reason for such widespread cheating by Chinese students is cultural…”

        …well what do you know, Culture Matters.

        On the plus side as their cultural values are added to our own, it should be easier to get away with cheating in the future – in an out of University.

        The future for those living in the EZFKA will be glorious!

      • On the subject of cultural attitudes to cheating, a related article from Zero Hedge:

        Scientific fraud – falsifying scientific data or manipulating the scientific evaluation process – has become a serious problem. At best, it is a threat to public confidence in science. At worst, if the fraud is not revealed, then public policy could be shaped by bogus data. This problem is universal. But there are distinct national patterns. In particular, fraud is endemic in non-Western countries—and among non-Western scientists who immigrate here.

        Retracted Papers for Fake Peer review by country 21012-16

        Top of the list, by a wide margin [drum roll please]……China – 276
        Next cab off the rank is by a wide margin is…. Taiwan…. 73
        (interestingly on a per capita basis it is even higher than China… democracy unleashes the cheating spirit?)
        Then comes Iran 65…. then back to East Asia again for Korea 33

        Quite why scientific corruption should be so prevalent in high IQ and wealthy Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea is less clear. One suggestion: they are strongly shame-oriented—saving face is all important—rather than guilt-oriented, like the West, where individual conscience will sometimes stop people from doing things even when they can get away with them. Shame cultures arguably lead people to be dishonest in order to achieve much prized social status, in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise be

        Australia comes in a respectable 7th on the list….. which may or may not be due to filling our Universities with Chinese and Indians (1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th on the list).

        Yay for diversity, it is pushing us right up the list!

      • It is already endemic as the demand for the cheating industry has generated opportunities for all. Domestic students who cheat are far less likely to be caught (they can edit and rehash a lot better). This might explain how some turn up at post graduate level with pathetically bad writing skills. They still pass. ‘No one is allowed to fail and everyone walks away with a certificate’ – just don’t forget to leave your payment on the dresser while the VC changes the sheets and makes the bed for the next customer.

        Look, the horse had bolted! Better set up a committee into stable doors.

  3. – What’s the problem here ??? When these students graduate then they simply hire a bunch of australian “idiots” who will do the “dirty work” for a wage that’s called “wage theft”. What’s not to like here at this scheme ? Just ask our ScoMo how it feels to be in this position ……………..

    • I think you’ve got the wrong angle. The degrees these people ‘achieve’ are useless here – what Strayan firm will hire these people? The CV looks great, they get granted an interview and then the truth is revealed during the first round. Can barely converse in English, are worse than useless when quizzed on the technical aspects of the subject and that’s the end.

      If they get a job back in China then great. Not our problem. Building they engineered falls down, people perish. So what.

        • Sure, but will driving Uber compensate them sufficiently for all the money they spent acquiring the degree? The answer is no, which means the only other reason they could possibly have for wanting to be here is one or a combination of clean air, opportunities for their children or welfare.

          • Or Chinese mates look after one another like white mates do.

            Good english means SFA if the boss prefers Mandarin.

  4. Easily solved. Just make every assignment have an oral component on the source material chosen at random by the lecturer. Like a pop quiz. Pretty difficult to cheat your way through that.

      • Too much work to mark.
        Another ruse the Uni’s use is pairing a chinaman or sub-continental with a hard working local in a “team”. The team does the assignment, which normally means the local who does all the work.
        Students are not allowed to choose their team-mates.

    • Ah, that’s precisely why there won’t ever be an oral component. The Uni administrators know precisely what they need to do to keep the students applying for their courses. You pays yer money, you gets yer degree!

      To be fair, it’s not just the Chinese. I did a Masters in Europe and the foreign cohort (from all over the mainland) engaged in brazen cheating, especially during exams. Their attitude was: I’ve paid my money, now hand over that certificate.

  5. reusachtigeMEMBER

    One thing I’ve discovered is that Chinamens ladies get great pleasure from cheating. If I was a settled guy I could think of no worse partner than a Chinamen girl. Nearly all the massage ones I know have multiple boyfriends and love telling me how they juggle them and how they cover their real job by saying they work in restaurants and one cleaning jobs. They love the rush and I ain’t complaining about being the neutral player.

  6. Ghost writing services are not exclusively targeted at or used by Chinese students. I see advertised on YouTube channels aimed at college/uni aged viewers. Channels with millions of subscribers and views.

  7. I’ve used to see a bunch of CVs from Chinese students with ostensibly very good grades. It took about a minute of actually interviewing them before you knew the grades were BS. Eventually even HR worked it out (which shows how obvious it is) and they stopped putting them up for interviews.

  8. The issue is broader than any one group. The economic temptation to accept and pass all students has diminished the standard of our academic institutions. In the early 2000’s I was told of an education lecturer at a regional QLD university that was told she could not fail over half the class. She had moved there from another institution and was dismayed at what was accepted. A family member stopped marking health related assignment papers for the same reason. It was easy money for them yet they could not allow these to be passed in good faith. The course I went through was rife with cheating. Other lecturers have told me of students who just should not be in university full stop. These are the courses that Australians are passing through. Give back the ability to fail students to the academics and we resolve many problems, not just with the international students as highlighted by this site, but also with local students and the institutions themselves.

  9. Australia prostituted its ‘education’ as migrant guestworker visa alibi.

    712,000 foreign students & ‘partners’(03/2019)
    ▫️615,000 as the primary applicant
    ▫️59,000 as partners, no English test, full work rights.
    ▫️38,000 on special, DFAT, scholarship rackets.

    They are not here for the education.
    They are here to live & work illegally, to secure a PR and be an anchor for chain migration.

    The lying, cheating, frauding, bribes & rackets are not only systemic, but by design.

    The vast bulk of the foreign students & partners are doing very low level / nonsense courses that are worthless, many courses have no international recognition, and almost all are available in their home country at lower cost or free online.

    Only 3.6% of these ‘foreign students’ ever achieve a professional vocation with an income higher than the Australian average (Migrant Pathways A Decade On Report & the later Productivity Commission Report they Foreign Students are not a suitable PR intake)
    Exposing just what a farce this whole foreign students racket has become.

    90% live in Sydney or Melbourne. (ABS)
    Occupying over 120,000 modest established Australian dwellings, invariably foreign owned, bought with dirty money laundered in & run as cash in hand migrant only bunkshare.

    Not an ‘Export’
    (The original source of this lie being Deloitte – a farrago of lies & propaganda paid for by Aust Edu Gov)

    The majority of foreign students enter Australia in loan debt to an foreign agent procurer & only pay a minimal first semester fee.
    All the rest of their fee & other expenses is from money earned here.
    Earned illegally. A $35 billion illegal onshore industry.
    And sent back as agent procurer debt repayments & remittances. Total remittances for Australia ($2 billion comes in, $20 billion goes out – World Bank 2018)
    -> Negative cash flow out.

    The foreign students & partners are the epi-centre of the foreign criminal run vice, drug and criminal industry.

    They are used as money mules & for large scale money laundering.
    They are the epicentre of foreign criminal run labor & ABN frauds & employment & visa fraud.

    The fees they pay for the nonsense courses (free in their home country or online) are from money earned here illegally / no tax paid.
    Not an export.

    75% of the foreign students work illegally.

    Stealing over 540,000 Australian jobs (costing the Australian taxpayers $9.3 billion) and lowering wages for all other Australians costing tens of billions.

    Add on housing contention, infrastructure & transport congestion, environmental degradation, overload of public facilities, destruction of our Australian education then the entire ‘foreign student’ industry negative economic & social impact is well over $25 billion negative.
    Each foreign student or partner each year costs the Australian society & economy -$35,000 each.

    The simple test is this.
    Remove all work rights from foreign students & partners and enforce it.

    Over 670,000 of the 715,000 foreign students & partners would immediately exit.

  10. sure, it is a problem, but not as big an issue as it is made out to be…most assessment is still exam/in-class assessment which is more difficult to cheat on…out of class team assignments are not a high proportion, or at least they are not in the business disciplines at USYD where I work…I can’t speak for the other disciplines though…