‘E-cheating’ rife among students in UAE, shows survey

plagiarismthumb3003BY: Muaz Shabandri

In a survey of more than 1,000 students across different universities in the UAE, 78 per cent of respondents admitted to cheating by using technology.

Dubai — Plagiarism is a “serious issue” among students taking educational courses in the UAE, academics at top universities in the country have said.

Dr Zeenath Khan, a lecturer at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), who has researched the subject of ‘e-cheating’ in the UAE in depth, explained the reasons pushing academic dishonesty.

In a survey of more than 1,000 students across different universities in the UAE, 78 per cent of respondents admitted to cheating by using technology.

“Cheating is a serious problem in the UAE ... Students cheat or plagiarise for a number of reasons. They sometimes have a laid-back attitude (when) ... they work on an assignment or revise for an exam at the last minute.

Sometimes teachers look the other way or are naive to the varying degrees of cheating and the methods used. There is also a huge ... pressure on students to excel, which contributes to levels of plagiarism too,” she told Khaleej Times.

Martin Prince, registrar at the British University in Dubai (BUiD), said the issue is not restricted to undergraduate students. “Even at post graduate level, there isn’t a clear understanding of plagiarism in students. We do expect Master’s students to have a bit more knowledge of academic dishonesty.”
He said the university recorded seven formal cases of deliberate plagiarism last year and almost 30 cases of negligent plagiarism.

“Any increase in cases of academic dishonesty is proportionate to the increase in number of students. We support new students who aren’t familiar with the rules of academic writing before their work is submitted for assessment,” he said.

He highlighted the university’s emphasis on making students aware of academic writing guidelines.

“We have policies and procedures for our students where new students get support from academic staff. Even if it is one piece of work in their module where deliberate plagiarism is detected, they would have to retake the module. Depending on the student’s explanation, the student can even be suspended from the programme for a period of time,” explained Prince.

The American University of Sharjah (AUS) has lowered the number of plagiarism cases by introducing sanctions against students who violate the honour code.

Kevin Mitchell, AUS interim provost, said: “Academic dishonesty is an issue at all academic institutions, although ... challenges may differ. For some students at (the) AUS, there can be a significant transition between high school and university and this often means that students may have difficulty in keeping up with the volume and level of work and may be tempted to take shortcuts.”

The university employs a variety of methods for detecting academic dishonesty, including anti-plagiarism software and other detection tools. The university faculty also reviews the work of students to assess their submissions.

“We track academic integrity violations at the university and have actually seen the number of cases decreasing, but this could be due to a number of factors, one of which may be that (the) AUS has both academic and non-academic sanctions for academic integrity violations.

The combination of academic and non-academic sanctions seems to have increased awareness and had an impact on the number of cases. An academic integrity violation can impact not only a student’s academic performance, but also (his/her) participation in extracurricular activities.”

Article Source: Khaleej Times

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