Chinese international students engulfed in cheating scandal

Over the past decade, Australia has experienced an unprecedented boom in Chinese international students, whose enrolment numbers hit a record high 261,000 in December 2019:

According to Associate Professor Salvatore Babones, Australia also has by far the highest concentration of Chinese students in the developed world, comprising 11% of all our university students:

One of the unfortunate side effects of this boom is that cheating among Chinese students has run rampant, which has been exposed in various reports over many years.

For example, “functionally illiterate“ Chinese students were embroiled in a sophisticated ghost-writing scandal in 2014.

And last year, multiple reports emerged of Chinese students cheating via ghost writing services (for example, see here and here).

Australia is by no means alone, however, with similar scandals exposed in New Zealand (e.g. here, here and here) as well as the United States (here).

Like Groundhog Day, another group of Chinese students have been embroiled in a cheating scandal, this time at the University of New South Wales:

Rates of cheating have snowballed at the University of NSW, a leaked report reveals, including 139 science students who hired ghost writers from Chinese messaging site WeChat to complete their work.

The 2019 Students Conduct and Complaints report, marked confidential but obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald, noted a ‘consistent and continuing upward trend’ in student misconduct allegations since 2014…

The most alarming figure was a 400 per cent surge in substantiated cases of contract cheating, also known as ghost writing and explained as a “form of collusion that involves a student engaging another person to complete work for them”…

“Most of the students reported that they had been directly targeted by contract cheating services via Chinese social media platform WeChat, online searches for study assistance or referral by other students,” the report noted.

Sadly, cheating seems to be a cultural phenomenon among Chinese, according to the New York 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…

This surge in cheating is also a natural and predictable consequence of getting large numbers of international students who cannot write fluent English into university courses.

The only way these students can pass written assignments is to get someone else to do them. Accordingly, academic standards have plummeted and the integrity of Australia’s higher education system has been severely compromised.

Meanwhile, university administrators turn a blind eye to protect their sacred ‘cash cow’.

Enough’s enough. Universities must dramatically lift English-language entry requirements as well as severely punish perpetrators. It’s the only way to stop the rot and safeguard standards.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Are we sure they weren’t just doing an assessment for their Mortgage Broker degree?

    • From that linked report it seems like Indian students are more qualified for being Mortgage Brokers:

      Admissions fraud … remained “higher than normal”, with 90 per cent of the perpetrators from India.

    • Local parents who forked out top dollar to educate their offspring at any of Melb & Sydney private/elite schools with sole focus to score a coveted place at Melb Monash, UNSW etc in Zmedicine, science, engineering, economics, law etc. They end up carrying vybrent counterparts through a sub par tertiary education for pi$$y degree.

  2. I noticed that Singapore withdrew recognition of Medical degrees from a number of Australian Universities last year., a sign of things to come ?

    • Wow. Thanks for sharing that. Shocking,
      There has been multi decades of split between real science..physiology and biochem for a start and the body and practice of medicine knowledge, lots of medical marketing of scientifically erroneous practices, in some areas, medical endocrinology is a plain joke in my experience in top hospital in Melbourne. Try 60 years out of date imo. This is foundational beyond the current Aus issue,

    • NoodlesRomanovMEMBER

      That one was news to me. Interesting that they ‘grade’ individual unis, not national accreditation schemes.

    • The US removed accreditation for some UTS, Melbourne Institute of Technology and Swinburne engineering degrees in 2018.

    • Melbourne & Sydney folk who forked out top dollar to educate their offspring at any of Melb & Sydney privet / select schools with sole focus to score a coveted place at Melbourne University, Monash, UNSW etc in Medicine, science, engineering, economics, law etc. They end up carrying vy Brent counterparts through a sub par tertiary education for
      pi$ $y degree.

  3. When your aim is to get permanent residence, rather than an education, then it all makes sense.

      • Enough of the pretend education. Just charge everyone who wants a PR $200k per visa, with no welfare benefits unless they are working and paying tax (none of that cash in hand crap). Redeploy university staff to farming or coding, where they can actually contribute to society.

        • The SIV regime effectively did that anyway, although in classically Australian style, the 200k was paid to a bank or fund manager, not the government.

          • and then returned to the individual at the end of the investment period (5yrs?) so other than clipping the ticket whilst managing the funds we kept nothing.

        • Or auction them off. Have a fixed number (1000) each year and find the highest bidders ($1M+). Money raised goes to random Australians as a lottery (1,000,000 x $1000)

    • SupernovaMEMBER

      Don’t think it’s a good idea to provide permanent residency to Chinese students who believe that “copying is the highest form of flattery”. Not all cultures are compatible with Australia’s as we are increasingly waking up to.

  4. Can’t speak for the rest of it but I do know that a lot of the problems started when the English testing was outsourced to the unis to self regulate.

    Used to be done mostly by immigration but not so much anymore.

  5. NoodlesRomanovMEMBER

    I made the mistake of starting an MBA that had about a 10% Australian citizen enrollment. The enforced group assignments are akin to contract cheating except the one literate English speaker (not necessarily Australian) isn’t paid to do it.

  6. Chinese students cheating!

    No surprises there. They come from a society with no moral compass and no ethics.

  7. To any MB lawyers (as I’m sure you can tell if you read on, I have no idea in this domain)…

    Are there any grounds for a class action of degree holders against Australian universities for the damage they’re doing to the value of these qualifications?

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      I am not a lawyer, but at the very least I’m sure you’d need to demonstrate existing degree holders are actually being harmed in some objective and measurable way.

      Eg: if employers are only assuming contemporary graduates haven’t learned anything, and not the same of historical graduates, then they wouldn’t really have any case for complaint.

    • Not a bad idea. I reckon the ambulance chasers may take a look at that one.

      Although that would necessarily involve drawing attention to the fact that you have a [email protected] degree. Sometimes better just to stay silent and pretend it’s all good.

      A bit like economists who reach a point in their careers where they realise Keynes was little more than a plausible bullsh#t artist – but there’s little point in rocking the boat as everyone thinks you’re a Rockstar and you get paid very well.

      • SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

        lol good point, the wanker lawyers that take it on probably have very dubious degrees themselves

    • It might be arguable under ACCC rules.

      They have a clause along the lines of “I wouldn’t have bought it if I had known it was crap”

    • Yeah I’ve thought about this too. Surely it could be proved that standards have slipped and existing degree holders reputation has been lowered and future earnings impacted.

  8. I did my degree more than 30 years ago, and “excessive collaboration” among foreign students was very common even way back then, particularly in group work. My partner at the time was a senior Uni bureaucrat and she had amazing stories of foreign students hiring doubles to sit their exams and similar sh1te. This is early 1980s.

    • Yep, I did my Masters in the late ’90s and it was chock-full of foreigners and the cheating was off the dial — never seen anything like it. Blatant during exams but the invigilators did SFA. I’ve never cheated in an exam in my life so was quite shocked.

      I was the sole English speaker in my two assignment groups too. Never even crossed my mind back then that I’d been stitched up.

    • Started my degree about 20 years ago. At the time the medical faculty had about 50% overseas students. They would run weekly “English” classes for them to supposedly get them up to scratch. A non-international student attended once to see what it was all about – turns out it was the faculty leaking out past exam questions which officially were not available.

    • Op-Ed: by a VC of a Uni!

      In other news the Pope suggests Catholicism would be his choice of religion if asked, Broncos fans, on average, prefer a T-Bone steak to ratatouille and so on ..

  9. Poochie the Rockin Dog

    Not just the Chinese, it’s all international students as while tutoring – I was asked to & did a whole heap of student assignments – the highlight was getting 100% on an assignment on ethics (learnt a bit about Kant) & writing essays about the history of feminism in Russia. The only students who I didn’t get asked to do assignments from were the Chinese because they probably had their own networks.

    • adelaide_economist

      And also because I doubt many of the Chinese students are to be found in the humanities, particularly where they would be writing essays on feminism. Even in the mid-90s when I was at university, there was a clear divide – lectures on economics and commerce were already heavily international whereas in the subjects I did in history and politics the lectures and tutorials were like being back in the 1950s – and not just because of how old the building was.

  10. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Well bapak Keating did say Australia needed to become part of Asia and accept its self as Asian
    Now that we are there …at least in the Universities…..we need to embrace this new culture of cheating as totally normal .
    Just as we will have to embrace the cheating and corruption that will seep into every nook and cranny of society as these “students “ get their citazenship and take
    their rightful place in this new wonderful Asian country . Getitintaya straya !


  11. Glorious Taiwan

    Get rid of assignments and only have exams. One person watching 10 students for cheating GoPro on the supervisor’s head to be used as evidence. Exam ends moment you go to the toilet. No-one will have the sudden urge to go to the toilet 45 minutes into an exam.

    • Or maybe have a GoPro in the toilet.
      I believe Japan is quite advanced in that area.

    • Question might be why do exams need to so long – three hours was typiclal in my day – if they typically finished after an hour it would be reasonable to allow no toilet breaks.

      • TailorTrashMEMBER

        Never went to toilet in an exam ..never ever
        ….after all if the universities are turning out the executives of the future who can’t plan their own toilet breaks what use are they .,,,,( both the executives and the universities)

  12. The uni’s just need to offer bridging courses in Mandarin to get the locals up to speed.. at, say, $5000 per class?

  13. Our visa filters are set for this in ‘international education’
    Low life, cheats, liars & vice workers.
    Based on direct observation.

    It would be good to see a media expose with hidden cameras on just what a farce our ‘international education’ is.

    🔹English studies.
    Unbelievable scenes. The absolute filth of the third world, African, Indian, North & South Asian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Nepalese.
    40 or more enrolled in a class start – all groomed to only appear for a few days then disappear to work illegally in the brothel, car wash or factory.
    By week 3 – only 10 or so attending & the backpacker or sponsored visa themselves ‘instructors’ or admin staff openly taking $50 cash payments to ‘mark off the roll’

    The ‘curriculum’ – a photo copied scrapbook of 8 year old English with cartoons & colouring in pictures. Lots of breaks & excursions. About 10 hours learning spread over 12 weeks. Students are allowed to fail up to 4 times and can take up to 3 years to complete. Virtually no controls or monitoring. Online & group assignments purposely designed to be assisted and cheated.

    Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese Bangladeshi, Chinese, Malays, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, African & Middle Eastern.

    🔹Childcare & healthcare.
    South East Asian mothers (the ex bar girls are tattooed, the solo mums directly recruited in for vice, kid with the grandmother back in the village in Isan etc – are non tattooed)
    Unbelievably dumb Colombians, Brazilian & East Europeans. Dumb Chinese and old Indians.
    Many are mature aged, mid thirties or forties – often their 2nd or 3rd course churn. Some have been here for 9 years in doing what is essentially a 4 week high school level course.

    🔹Business studies & marketing.
    Chinese & other Asian hookers typically on a CoE churn after failing a prior course and their agent putting them into this more difficult but longer term certificate or diploma so they don’t get exited. Or else Indian & Nepalese females working illegally and some Chinese & Indian males on course churn also.

    🔹IT & Engineering.
    Chinese & Asian males. Indian, Bangladeshi & Pakistani males.
    Long term easily cheated courses designed with minimal content (year 10-12 level) very long breaks, group assignments and work experience.
    As said – Easily cheated, rote learning. Many courses have no international recognition. No jobs either. Just a pretext to be in Australia to work & live illegally in visa breach.

    🔹Accounting, IT, Medicine & other easily cheated rote learning courses.
    Chinese men & the ugly Chinese woman or other woman not suitable for vice.
    Chinese and south East Asian males laundering dirty money as mules.
    Rote learning. Poor instructors and a joke curriculum (year 3 accounting class at UNSW couldn’t even explain a balance sheet).