Ghost-writing and plagiarism remain a concern in tertiary education.

HauTaki Haere |Tertiary Update Vol 23 No 11

A rise in reported cheating incidents at the University of Auckland has again hit headlines, with concerns that the use of ‘ghost-writers’ and websites which enable cheating are undermining academic integrity at the university.

The issue of students cheating is not new, neither is it unique to the University of Auckland. However, the Tertiary Education Union | Te Hautū Kahurangi is urging stronger collective action on the matter.

The union has offered to work with Universities New Zealand to draw on the experience and expertise of members in efforts to counter cheating.

The union met with Universities New Zealand – the body representing all vice- chancellors in Aotearoa – to discuss the issue of cheating. The TEU accepts that the issue is being taken seriously by Universities New Zealand – and that trying to shut down websites offering ghost-writing services is a game of ‘whack-a-mole’ that authorities cannot win. The union has argued for a more systemic approach.

While there is always the possibility of cheating, plagiarism and dishonesty in tertiary education, the recent reported rise in incidents is indicative of various pressures at work in the system.

TEU National President Michael Gilchrist says members can feel how concerned students are to ‘make good’ on the money they’ve spent on their education.

“That doesn’t excuse cheating by students, but shows we must look at system changes not just individual behaviour.”

“Added to what students face, staff workloads and arbitrary success measures make for a pressure-cooker system where good practice is often pushed aside for short term gain.”

Gilchrist says there are multiple practices that could reduce plagiarism and other forms of cheating.

“At the level of the institution, university leaders must support teaching staff to implement the best measures to identify and prevent cases of cheating. Our staff and students are the experts on the issue, so decisions made in combating cheating need to be made in conversation with both staff and students”.

Gilchrist says “A few immediate actions could include: supporting staff to regularly change assignments and include reference to very recent materials; allowing more time for lecturers and tutors to work with students in small groups, to know their work, and more preparation time for lecturers and tutors; increasing supervised assessments, both in lectures and in tutorials,as well as retaining a role for exams.

“We know that resources are scarce in our sector and everyone is doing more with less, but teaching and learning methods that help prevent cheating should not be seen as a ‘nice to have’ in our universities, wānanga, and polytechnics.”

Also in this edition:

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  • Preparing universities for the “new age ofdisruption”– Education Central
  • Auckland university staff 'silenced' over complaints about student withfar-right views - RNZ
  • University of Canterbury teaching students a lessonabout exam failure –The Press
  • Wellbeing survey shows fair pay agreements are partof the solution - CTU
  • West Coast likely tobenefit from sector review - TPP