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College students look for employment at a job fair in Jiangsu Polytechnic University, China.

Will the Prospect of Prison Time Dissuade Cheaters in China?

April 06, 2009 04:04 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
The economic downturn and increased job competition has led to high-tech cheating methods among university-bound students, but punishment is becoming more severe.

Going to Extremes to Succeed

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To help students ace their exams, some Chinese parents enlisted professors and other students, and used undetectable earpieces, cell phones and miniature scanner equipment. Eight offenders are now in prison for at least six months and could be there for up to three years. Some of the parents were local officials, according to the BBC, and at one school in Zhejiang province, three separate groups of cheaters were found.
The highly technical and carefully thought out cheating "does not appear to be that unusual," according to the BBC. One father caught cheating said in court that he and other parents cheated to secure their children's futures.
Similarly, the economic downturn, coupled with the "huge expansion in higher education," has resulted in fierce competition for civil service jobs in China. Applicants have been caught using "increasingly hi-tech methods" to cheat on civil service exams, according to The Guardian. Statistics from China Daily newspaper published in The Guardian are shocking: 775,000 people, including many university graduates desperate for secure positions, competed for just 13,500 jobs.

Background: Pressure on Chinese students

In February, China Daily reported on the disturbing case of Li Qilong, a student at the Beijing University of Technology who failed his exams, resulting in expulsion. Upon hearing the news, Qilong broke into the university and "repeatedly stabbed a woman named Xu, who worked in the office that had sent out the notices." He then attempted suicide by jumping from an overpass on campus, but survived. According to China Daily, the incident was one of several similar cases in recent months, and "prompted concern about the growing tension between students and teachers, and some students' fragile psychological condition."

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Related Topic: China cracks down on cheaters

Academic dishonesty has been ubiquitous and tacitly approved in Chinese universities. However, in March, it seemed that a paradigm shift was beginning to take place: The government terminated the employment of three notable faculty members in the field of traditional medicine after they were exposed in a plagiarism scandal. The problem is deeply embedded, however. Among professors and students in China, the pressure to publish is so great that plagiarism is actually taught in some classrooms.

Reference: Guide to preventing plagiarism

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