Monday, May 28, 2012

Further stories on Chinese Students Cheating

Over the past several years there has been a recognition that academic fraud amongst Chinese students has reached critical levels.  In the past five years, Chinese students have increased their undergraduate representation in American colleges from a mere 10,000 students to over 57,000.  While there is no reason to believe that the most successful Oriental students currently enrolled in North American schools engage in any of the documented modalities of fraud, sufficient data continues to accumulate that the average applicant is less than accomplished than what he or she is portraying.  For example, an article in the IHT titled "Sneeking into Class from China" points out the following:
Zinch China, a consulting company that advises American colleges and universities about China, published a report last year that found cheating on college applications to be “pervasive in China, driven by hyper-competitive parents and aggressive agents.
The consulting company told American colleges,
Our research indicates that 90 percent of recommendation letters are fake, 70 percent of essays are not written by the applicant, and 50 percent of high school transcripts are falsified.
Colleges in response are finding the following:
American college recruiters in China feel overwhelmed by the proliferation of cheating, lying, and fraud: Study abroad big business in China, and young Ivy League graduates write essays for Chinese applicants while many a Chinese public school fakes transcripts and recommendation letters.
In 2010 a Centenrary College, located in NJ, decided to shutter each of its satellite campuses in China and Taiwan, subsequent to discovering "rampant cheating among local student".  The extent of the fraud was so ubiquitous that the college was forced to
[withhold] degrees from all 400 Chinese-speaking students in its master’s of business administration programs in Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan, said Debra Albanese, Centenary’s vice president for strategic advancement.
In 2009 the GMAT testing agency discovered a wide-spread scandal in which Chinese companies were collecting and selling GMAT questions online.  In response to that and a growing demand from Chinese students for the test, the testing agency has introduced a fourth part containing integrated reasoning questions, in addition to the current verbal and mathematical skills and analytic writing ability sections.  A NY Times article stated that the, "rise in applications to U.S. schools from overseas students has been accompanied by a reported rise in fraudulent credentials"  The new analytic section is meant to handicap memorization and assess the ability of the student to
synthesize information from multiple sources in order to solve complex problems... They also wanted candidates to be able to indicate what information was relevant, and not relevant, and to be able to evaluate which among a set of possible outcomes were the most likely.
Despite all these harsh criticisms and unfavorable reviews, China's institutions appears to be still very much centered around polices and practices that maintain acceptable levels of fraud and corruption.  The Economist magazine stated,
Scholars, both Chinese and Western, say that fraud remains rampant and misconduct ranges from falsified data to fibs about degrees, cheating on tests and extensive plagiarism.
This pervasive and continuous levels of fraud not only diminish the value of honest Chinese students who participate in Western universities -many of whom I personally knew to be excellent students- but leads one to question the entire system of data collection, research, and scientific publication that is present within China.
The implications of widespread academic misconduct could be great. Denis Fred Simon of Penn State University argues that growing evidence of fraud “calls into question the overall credibility of the entire scientific enterprise in China-and unfortunately feeds negatively into the related concerns about the safety of Chinese products and the integrity of information coming out of China.”
Whereas this slavish affection for deception will allow a few to prosper, eventually the system will collapse from the weight of fraud, incompetence, and indifference to empirical fact.

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