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Whose culture of cheating?

14 May, 2007

A number of times in Europe and Australia I have heard academics complain of Chinese students borrowing text without appropriate citations, running afoul of plagiarism standards. They have a sense, fueled by “international education” professionals that in China, this is not considered unethical. (There were even papers about this at a recent conference on “the Chinese student” in Britain.) They tend to explain to their students that this is not okay but not take sanctions, and feel uneasy about it. 

Recently I had a conversation with a masters graduate of a well-known university in China and asked if it was true that a certain amount of unacknowledged copying would be tolerated by professors there. She emphatically denied it. So it makes me wonder whether this is another case of using cultural justifications for, in this case, lower academic standards to maintain the influx of Chinese student dollars (or a more vague sense of the importance of “good relations” with China?)

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