Contract cheating as white collar crime

Contract cheating researcher, Louise Kaktins (Macquarie U) analysed contract cheating advertisements to find they provide “critical information for educational providers about the attitudes of international students towards academic honesty.”

“There is much disquiet on the part of universities generally about the failure of such students to engage in the academic discourse socialisation process and so distancing themselves from the academic community, as well as flaunting academic protocols which uphold the credibility of their university degrees,” she writes in the journal Ethics and Education.  P 14

And she argues that the damage of cheating becoming the norm extends well beyond ersatz experiences of university and degraded degrees; “the loop is a continuous one – with unethical academic behaviour morphing into unethical business behaviour and vice versa – and for academics the challenge will be to determine whether reforming business education (and indeed universities’ approaches to their own perpetuation) with a greater focus on ethical management etc. will, in turn, overflow into nurturing a business environment that operates within a framework of greater integrity.”

Contract cheating may well be classed as a unique version of white collar crime, Ms Kaktins suggests.

So what is to be done? Technology to detect plagiarism and other forms of cheating is a start but the long-term solution lies in teaching changes, with more in-person and smaller classes, face to face feedback and “a movement back to a more collegial atmosphere .”

“The wholesale embracing of a corporate, commercialised approach to recruiting students (on the basis of being ‘customers’) might need to be revisited in the light of some insidious side-effects (including contract cheating),” Ms Kaktin concludes.


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