27 October 2016
Some students pay others to sit exams for them. Photo: Boston Globe
Some students pay others to sit exams for them. Photo: Boston Globe

Foreign students seen cheating more than locals in US

Foreign students cheat more than five times as often as local ones, a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from more than a dozen large US public universities found.

In the 2014-15 school year, the universities recorded 5.1 reports of alleged cheating for every 100 international students. They recorded one such report per 100 domestic students.

Students from China were singled out by many faculty members the newspaper interviewed.

“Cheating among Chinese students, especially those with poor language skills, is a huge problem,” Beth Mitchneck, a University of Arizona professor of geography and development, was quoted as saying. 

At that university, a professor told of multiple Chinese students handing in the same incorrect test answers.

At Ohio State University, a Chinese student took tests for Chinese classmates for cash last year, guaranteeing an A.

At the University of California, Irvine, some international students used a lost-ID-card ruse to let impersonators take exams in place of others.

While a flood of foreign undergraduates on US campuses is improving the financial health of universities, it also sometimes undermines a fundamental value of US scholarship: academic integrity.

In the academic year just ending, 586,208 international undergraduate students attended US colleges and universities, figures from the Department of Homeland Security show.

More than 165,000 were from China. South Korea and Saudi Arabia were the source of nearly 50,000 each, and India of about 23,500.

Faculty and domestic students interviewed said it appears that substantial numbers of international students either don’t comprehend or don’t accept US standards of academic integrity.

At the University of Arizona, the staff work hard to explain academic integrity to those from abroad, but “our students don’t always understand what plagiarism is,” said Chrissy Lieberman, associate dean of students.

The newspaper quoted Lanqing Wang, a Georgia Institute of Technology electrical engineering student from Shanghai, who is distressed by the cheating he sees, as saying, “In China, it’s OK to cheat as long as you’re not caught.”

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