Interesting Comment

One academic journal mused innocently: “The cultural values of multilingual students are sometimes at variance with Western academic practice, in matters such as plagiarism… we should respect and make use of the students\’ own traditions of study.”

15 thoughts on “Interesting Comment”

  1. What he means is that overseas students bring lots of money into the system, so we should turn a blind eye when they cheat.

    My class mates had access to a whole ream of completed homework from previous graduates who came from the same schools as them.

    I also got to see a thesis where one page had been copied from a book. Bearing in mind that the perp’s English was not flawless, it must have been obvious.

    Never mind at thousands a pop, who cares.

  2. The result will be British universities dropping out of the league tables in the coming years. If you have kids start saving for a US university.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    The problem with respecting and making use of students’ own traditions of study is that they tend to consist of blindly regurgitating whatever anyone in authority has said – be that the teacher, the text book or the Party leader. It is not that there aren’t original thoughts going on in the students’ brains (although often there are not), it is that they won’t put them on paper. That’s the real problem.

    Plagiarism is like the tip of an iceberg – nine tenths of the real problem is under water. Let a student get away with refusing to think and you may as well fold up as an educational institution.

  4. @ Kit – no it won’t. As it says in the piece, the dumbing-down doesn’t apply to the serious universities, who’re capable of attracting foreigners who’re both rich and talented.

    @ SMFS – absolutely agreed. This is why people who think UK education is unspeakably bad because we do less well at arithmetic than the Chinese and the Koreans are idiots. Our system is based on prioritising original thought and argument over fact-learning, and that’s precisely why we lead the world in industries such as media, financial and professional services…

  5. “…that’s precisely why we lead the world in industries such as media, financial and professional services…”

    Ah, yes. All those ‘industries’ that have been known to play fast and loose with the facts… 🙂

  6. You call it “playing fast and loose with the facts”, they call it “creativity” 😉

    But either way, they’re the industries that bring in the tax money to pay the dole for the people who don’t make stuff any more…

  7. “…either way, they’re the industries that bring in the tax money to pay the dole for the people who don’t make stuff any more…”

    “…until they get another job.”

    You meant to add that bit at the end, and just forgot, right?

  8. I phoned The Powers That Be. “We’ve caught a cheat here” says I. And what did TPTB advise? Did he insist “Protect our academic standards unto the last ditch”? He did not; he said “Keep this out of court – some of them have rich and angry fathers.”

  9. > This is why people who think UK education is unspeakably bad because we do less well at arithmetic than the Chinese and the Koreans are idiots. Our system is based on prioritising original thought and argument over fact-learning, and that’s precisely why we lead the world in industries such as media, financial and professional services…

    I think you’re slightly misrepresenting those with whom you argue, John. Those people who think that British education has gone down the tubes may sometimes point to examples such as Korea while making some point or other about what is possible, but they ultimately think British education is crap because they’re comparing it not to Korea or China or Malaysia or wherever, but to Britain fifty years ago or Britain a hundred years ago or Britain two-hundred years ago — all times at which we managed both the original thought and the astounding feats of mental arithmetic and being able to spell and punctuate our own language, and hence led the world in… well, pretty much everything until the Americans went and invented America.

  10. “we should respect and make use of the students’ own traditions of study.””

    Seems a bit pointless to do that when presumably the reason for studying at an institution with a different culture is to learn how they do things in that different culture. Some might even say it is “insensitive” (if not “offensive”) to the host culture.

  11. Several years ago I had a student from another country engage in plagiarism in his term paper proposal. I failed him on that assignment and reminded him to read the material attached to the course reading list which covers plagiarism before doing his term paper.

    Two weeks later he turned in his term paper, which also had huge sections of plagiarized material. I sent the documentation to our chair and strongly urged that the student be expelled from the university (for both plagiarism and for stupidity). [I teach at a Canadian university.]

    Instead, the Dean used this “cultural differences” claptrap and required that the student receive a zero on the term paper. He failed the course, but he really should have received more of a penalty than that.

  12. “and hence led the world in… well, pretty much everything until the Americans went and invented America”: no, no – we and the Germans led the world in everything until the end of WWII. America is really recent on the scene.

  13. I phoned The Powers That Be. “We’ve caught a cheat here” says I. And what did TPTB advise? Did he insist “Protect our academic standards unto the last ditch”? He did not; he said “Keep this out of court – some of them have rich and angry fathers.”

    Dearieme wins! In Academia, as in much else, we’re screwed until we allow the courts to award punitive damages against the plaintiff.

  14. > no, no – we and the Germans led the world in everything until the end of WWII.

    Yes, I know. And I wrote:

    > Britain fifty years ago or Britain a hundred years ago or Britain two-hundred years ago

    I am pretty sure that the end of WWII was more than fifty years ago. Hence my mention of the US.

    Looking back, I could perhaps have said “perfected” instead of “invented”, but I assumed that a combination of the dates I mentioned and an assumption that I wasn’t completely and utterly thick would make it obvious to any old eejit that I couldn’t possibly be talking about the Declaration of Independence.

  15. Whoever claimed that the free market was about protecting academic standards or other such statist rubbish? All the moans here have been (and I am sure still are) practiced by the Brit private education sector since time immemorial. Next thing people will be advocating some kind of ‘Academic Standard’ authority or other such interventions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *