Let’s call a spade a spade. Uni is really, really hard. Modern University students are expected to maintain a delicate balance between relationships, part time work, unpaid internships and family all while maintaining decent grades.
Over the past few years we’ve seen an increase in cheating in universities, largely enabled by new technology that allows channels such as subscription-based assignment sharing sites or full service assignment writing services. A recent(ish) report from The Feed revealed some services will also sit exams for you. There are more ways to work around the system than ever before.
Back in April of last year, a research report revealed that 6% of University students have admitted to serious cheating with students studying engineering and international students topping the list of those most likely to cheat.
The director of academic integrity at University of South Australia, Tracey Bretag was quoted on an ABC report saying “the nature of cheating has changed. Also what’s changed is the ubiquitous nature of the cheat sites that are available.”
She’s right. Cheating has always existed to some degree, but what’s changed is the relative ease of cheating and the increase in the availability of ways to do it. It has given way to an epidemic of digital scandals in Universities. But what’s driving the need for students to want to turn to these services?
Think about the penalties if you fail a subject — you lose time while you repeat it, you enter the workforce later, many students would consider it to be downright embarrassing and, of course, within the Australian system you would have to pay for the subject every time you do it until you pass it. The stakes are high. But for international students the punishment can be even more severe.
For an international student studying in Australia, you have to pay the full cost of your degree upfront. Day 1. Often with a higher price tag than local students fork out. So if you fail a few subjects, you may not only have to pay for them again, but there’s the real risk you might get dropped from the course altogether, at which point you would have to examine your visa situation or risk being sent back to your home country with nothing but a hole in your bank account to show for your efforts.
Tracey also spoke about international students in the ABC report mentioned above, stating “We know [international students] need more resources, we know they need to come in with a higher level of English language competence [if they are from a non-English speaking background]. We know those that are struggling need to get more help earlier on.”
Personally, I am 0% surprised some students would rather run the risk of cheating. Considering all the reasons that a student might want to take the easy way out of an assignment and find someone online who’s offering to take a massive weight off your shoulders for a few thousand bucks. I would be tempted.
To make matters more complex, education remains Victoria’s number one largest service-based export. So despite the very clear link between our massive intake of international students and the income of universities, things are unlikely to change while so much money is being poured into the system.
If I was an international student studying in Australia I would feel pretty betrayed after paying tens of thousands of dollars for a degree that I needed more support to get through and may not have received, that was run in a language I might not have a great fluency in. The knowledge that it takes Australian students 4.7 years on average to go from full time study to full time work is already a huge challenge, and course structures remaining stagnant in a time where what employers want from workers are rapidly changing, it’s getting harder and harder to justify putting in the hours for a piece of paper.