Lobbies to feds: no contract on parents and friends who help students cheat

The Innovative Research Universities lobby backs legislation against contract cheating but wants it selectively applied

And that means not making helping your kids/mates with assignments an offence. As it stands, the draft “may create considerable uncertainty amongst students and create fear that all forms of peer support (including student-to-student, or support from family and friends) should be avoided to avoid incriminating themselves or their support group,” IRU warns in comments on the bill.

Or as contract cheating researcher Phillip Dawson (Deakin U) puts it, completing somebody else’s assignment may be wrong, “but it is not a crime.”  Aspro Dawson has a petition calling on the feds not to “criminalise parents, friends and peers who help students cheat,”  here.

The IRU addresses three issues;

* legislating against contract cheating commercial providers: Universities have “limited ability to disrupt the supply of these services” and they should be the focus of interdiction

* more precise definition of one activity covered by the bill: three cited activities, completing an other’s assignment, providing exam answers and sitting an exam “are unequivocally cheating”.  However, a fourth providing “any part” of required work is too broad if applied to friends and family; “minor editing, proof reading or suggestions of references or quotes could easily become parts of assignments.”

* clear guidelines for universities to assist with investigation:  the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency will investigate breaches and institutions need to know what to record about cases of cheating and when to tell TEQSA.

Students agree

“Students are wary that the broad scope of the legislation may target individuals who could breach academic integrity by providing assistance to their friends,” the National Union of Students, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association and the Union of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students said last night.

They call on the government “to amend the proposed legislation so that it only targets organised, commercial cheating providers.”

TEQSA is on the case

The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency is tendering for somebody to advise higher education providers, “on promoting a culture of academic integrity prevention” and to advise them on strategies, “to prevent, detect and respond to potential breaches of academic integrity, such as contract cheating”.


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