Advanced search

International students & widespread cheating

(188 Posts)
Pewdie Wed 13-Mar-19 11:30:01

Last year I was a masters student (MSc Management). Majority of the modules involved group work. Often times I found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to communicate with my teammates. They would often confuse very basic models/terms and their emails, WhatsApp messages were intelligible and riddled with errors. However, when it came to producing the actual assignments the standard would be incredibly high. I understand people perform differently in different contexts in how people perform varies in different contexts but I just can't believe there was nothing untoward going on. AIBU to suspect there is widespread plagiarism occurring at universities among rich, international students.

Just to note I am not bitter nor resentful. I have watched many international students agonise over assignments.

Confusedbeetle Wed 13-Mar-19 11:32:49

I believe there is a problem and that it is currently under investigation and some universities. Trying to avoid racism but foreign students are implicated

Pewdie Wed 13-Mar-19 11:35:53

I often witnessed (on social media) some students spending more time in Selfridges than the library. Honestly, some people struggled to string a sentence together but then would write these dazzling reports.

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Wed 13-Mar-19 11:36:40

Standards are low. I occasionally plough through nursing masters - and the level of English is shocking. Actually it's illiterate in many cases. You can tell a 'babelfish' translation and a C&P jobbie.

There is also a thriving market in essay writing.

gwenneh Wed 13-Mar-19 11:37:37

I definitely noticed this on my MBA course and it impacted how the rest of us scored by comparison for sure.

Songsofexperience Wed 13-Mar-19 11:40:51

I have no idea whether or not there's a problem at your institution but I'd question your motives for posting such a specific question in Aibu rather than education.
All you do is fuel the already widespread xenophobia and god knows universities will suffer under a bad brexit. The last thing they need is for international students to be viewed as cheats. If those students stop coming to the UK it'll be the nail in the coffin.

HollowTalk Wed 13-Mar-19 11:42:14

One of my friend's had a husband who worked at a university in England that had a lot of foreign students. He taught and there were interpreters. There were no tutorials or exams - everything was coursework or essays. He knew that certain students didn't speak very good English. When their work came in it was perfect. Absolutely perfect. And though he questioned it with his managers, he was told basically to shut up, that if the work was good, it was good and should get high marks.

He emigrated in the end, as did many of his colleagues.

HollowTalk Wed 13-Mar-19 11:43:19

Having said that, my daughter did an MA and someone on the course failed because they couldn't express themselves fully in their dissertation or essays. So some universities are clearly more stringent and honourable than others.

Songsofexperience Wed 13-Mar-19 11:45:21

There is also a thriving market in essay writing.
If there is, it's probably not used only by foreigners

emotionalsupportsoil Wed 13-Mar-19 11:46:25

I also noticed this while doing a science based masters, I had to do a presentation in a group and ended up rewriting everything as my partners English was basically incomprehensible and she had to explain what she meant verbally before I could make sense of the things she had written. She also struggled with basic concepts related to the subject and I would often sit and help her yet she regularly got high 70% assignment grades (I was less forthcoming with helping when I realised this) I wondered if it was the university not wanting to fail international students as we also had some American students who really didn’t seem to understand a lot of the material but passed and in one case which annoyed most of the class an international student who walked out of a 4hr exam 30minutes in. Then proceeded to gloat how despite only answering 1/6 questions still passed the module.
I think such events generally lower the worth of British degrees although as frustrating as it is I was never irritated enough to question it.

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Wed 13-Mar-19 11:47:28

@songs - oh no, its used by anyone and everyone - and the brightest make a lucrative living from it.

emotionalsupportsoil Wed 13-Mar-19 11:48:50

On balance to that though during my undergrad a few people I knew used essay writing services and not all of these people where caught. All where British students so it’s certainly not only an international student problem

Songsofexperience Wed 13-Mar-19 11:50:39

oh no, its used by anyone and everyone - and the brightest make a lucrative living from it.

Right- then why turn this issue into one specifically about foreign students rather than a general problem with cheating in higher education?

PettyContractor Wed 13-Mar-19 12:08:15

People are probably focusing on foreign students because their language difficulties make it clearer that something odd is going on.

HollowTalk Wed 13-Mar-19 12:08:16

Because it's so bloody obvious that's what's happening if someone doesn't speak the language.

TFBundy Wed 13-Mar-19 12:10:19

I went to a RG university in the mid-1990's and this was already an open secret. Nothing will change because the universities are dependent on overseas students' cash.

Tinkobell Wed 13-Mar-19 12:11:09

Oh no. Allegations of cheating in education are so depressing.

ItsAllGone19 Wed 13-Mar-19 12:13:19

Children of rich parents irrespective of where they were born have an expectation that things can be bought, some extend this thinking into degrees which is why there's such a lucrative market around it.

The only thing that makes it more noticeable for foreign born students is that their day to day English betrays the standard of work being submitted.

Universities are supposedly run by intelligent people, this is their problem. The credibility of their 'product' is at stake and they need to find a solution.

YABU for implying it's just Johnny Foreigner that's doing this to the Higher Education system rather than any dishonourable rich brat of which the UK has plenty

MyBoiledEggIsTooSoft Wed 13-Mar-19 12:13:21

Eh... I am foreign, and I don’t feel offended that someone finds it odd that a person who barely understand English can write perfect essays in that language. I would wonder myself. I think it is a reasonable observation!!

Although I have once helped a friend with a speech (nor essay!). She had written an amazing contribution to a specialist field, her English is good, but not at all great. I helped her sort the language out (took ages as I had to google a lot of terms). She then adjusted her speech again after as some terms were supposed to be used in some contexts and not others (she knew the specialist terms in English, just couldn’t get it to flow) . I can safely say that I knew nothing of the topic before, a bit more after and my main contribution was language structure and grammar...

IrmaFayLear Wed 13-Mar-19 12:14:32

I posted on another thread today that dn complained that this was happening on her Law degree at a high-ranking university.

Without interviewing candidates and checking ID an institution has no idea really who is turning up. And do they even care?

amusedbush Wed 13-Mar-19 12:22:48

I work in undergraduate admissions and course administration in a University. We've had this issue every year but this cycle has been utterly atrocious and we don't know what else we can do. We require a certain level of English proficiency (demonstrated through IELTS exams, Cambridge Advanced Certificate, etc) and when the students get here some of them genuinely can't speak any English. They also won't engage with their classmates, choosing instead to live and work solely with people who speak their own language so they aren't practising. They are even using Google translate and similar in tutorials.

The course that I coordinate has changed from exclusively group work (which allowed coasting) to individual coursework this year so if any of these students submit well-written essays we will be asking questions.

Scrapper142 Wed 13-Mar-19 12:25:40

During a master's I had a group project where 3 of the other 4 had very poor language skills. The project was a disaster, I did all the work and they just read out a script during the presentation, which was excruciating to listen to. There was no input during the project as they literally couldn't understand me. They had all gained an undergrad the previous year from the uni.

The lecturer pulled me aside afterwards and told me that it was clear what had happened but the marking was based on the group performance and there was nothing he could do to help.

I left not long after, just felt there was no integrity to anything I achieved.

MaybeDoctor Wed 13-Mar-19 12:26:21

Back in the 1990s it was a fairly open secret that overseas students had lowered entry requirements onto some prestigious courses - RG institutions. Many would inevitably fail at the end of the first year, then become caught in a round of re-taking and resitting modules, eventually sloping off to dubious tutorial colleges. It was a horrible and fairly cynical way to treat young people, but could possibly be excused in the pre-internet days where administering entrance interviews for overseas students would have been very difficult.

However, what puzzles me is that every course I have ever looked at seems to have a requirement for some kind of English language certification - IELS?

MaybeDoctor Wed 13-Mar-19 12:27:40

Cross-posted - so are these IELTS certificates faked too?

Bartlebysleftshoe Wed 13-Mar-19 12:29:45

I was talking to someone recently who is senior in a RG university & they know it is a serious problem. (students from all backgrounds)

Some students don't feel what they are doing is wrong in terms of plagiarism, and have argued that they have done the work by finding and translating the answers (completed essays) to the assignments.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »