The outsourcing of cheating
In India we complain about our students cheating, but cheating is a world-wide phenomena. In fact some students acquiring question papers before the examination is not uncommon in developed countries either. The only difference is that there school and college managements are more alert, and if caught students can face stringent punishment. In Britain, there have been cases where students caught cheating have been expelled without a degree. In one such case some years ago, where an aspiring medic cheated, she was let off fairly lightly, but this provoked strong criticism in an editorial in the British Medical Journal with the demand that “Justice must be done and seen to be done”. However there were those who did not believe that the student should be humiliated or expelled. They felt that compassion should be shown, particularly as the student who cheated was an “exemplary” student and also highly intelligent. Their argument was that it wasn’t a crime that had been committed. Well, I am not sure whether one should look at the issue this way. Cheaters who get away will do it again, and the next time they do it could be in real life. They will do it because they have got away with it before. The consequences can be far greater when cheating takes places outside the confines of an academic world.
With the advent of the internet, cheating has got easier and more difficult to catch. This is what the following article will tell you about – the outsourcing of school assignments to India. The involvement of students from Britain has come to light today, but who knows how many students from other developed countries are using similar services?
Sarah Scrafford has written about this subject below (specifically for this blog). Thanks Sarah.
Graduating to Cheats
We’ve all come across our share of students who take shortcuts to complete assignments and homework, but this shortcut is probably the longest one invented so far – one that crosses seas and continents to take cheating to a whole new level. British students have been caught with their hands in the outsourcing cookie jar, using to their advantage a global phenomenon that works by paying highly-qualified personnel in developing countries to undertake domestic tasks at significantly lower costs.
This new trend, which has been christened “contract cheating”, has education specialists in the United Kingdom in a quandary – they know the crime is being committed but they’re helpless when it comes to identifying the criminals, no thanks to the anonymity offered by the Internet through fake email ids and pseudonym online accounts.
Most of the cheating is done by the information technology majors, as the art of writing programs does not involve a signature style like writing prose or text does and hence is less likely to be detected as plagiarism. They’re willing to shell out between £5 and £50 for each assignment, depending on the complexity. Businesses that set up sites to allow professionals to bid on outsourced writing and design jobs are being unwittingly used by the students for their own purposes – they post details of the task to be completed, and then choose the lowest bid submitted.
India, with its vast pool of talented and well-educated professionals who also have a good command over English, is the most preferred destination for these assignments. While outsourcing per se is not a crime, the very fact that students are cheating on their requirements for the completion of a degree speaks volumes about the standards of education. Obviously they are secure in the thought that they are never going to be caught; no one wants to risk spending money on a losing proposition.
The question that arises out of this controversy is one that deals not just with integrity but with ability too. Are the students tempted to cheat because they are unable to cope with the demands of the coursework on their own? Or is it just that they are too lazy to take the effort to do themselves what they could get done more effectively at the cost of a few pounds?
Academics in the British Isles would do well to look into this aspect even as they try to pinpoint the particular people who are involved in this scheme. If it’s laziness or a don’t care attitude, it’s not an issue of competence that’s at stake when said cheats graduate with honors that belong to the graduates of a country far, far away!
(The above article titled “Graduating to Cheats” has been contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of top accredited online university. You can contact her at her personal email address here: sarah.scrafford25(at)gmail (dot)com)
Related Reading: Posts about Higher Education in India.