Misses Wang, Zhang, Huang and Cheng have this week been arrested and stand accused of academic fraud in the United States. It was revealed Ms. Wang sat the TOEFL exam for the other three students in order to help them gain visas and entrance into US universities.
The students have been charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the United States. If convicted they face a sentence of 5 years, 3 years supervised release, $250,000 fine and deportation.
The number of Chinese students facing dismissal and punishment over academic dishonesty abroad is on a steep increase. It has been revealed that over 8,000 Chinese students were kicked out of United States universities while the Times (London) reported that between 2012 and 2015, over 50,000 university students had cheated on tests. In addition, the department of immigration in Australia also cancelled the visas of over 9,000 students in 2015 due to academic dishonesty.
Until recently Chinese students when studying abroad upheld the standards of “acutely studious” and “hard working” while most were relatively poor and studying on scholarships. Today this reputation is long gone; instead it has been replaced with “wealthy”, “lazy” and unqualified.
However, it is not only the Chinese who seem to be cheating their way into university degrees abroad. Recently in New Zealand, six Saudi Arabian students were allowed to pass a degree in electronics despite being caught cheating in their final exams. Eastern Europeans are also growing a reputation for cheating in entrance exams and academic dishonesty at universities abroad. In South Korea, ten centres that helped students be accepted into universities abroad were closed down in an effort to combat rampant cheating and bribery.
2015 was dubbed the “golden age” for the overseas recruitment of students in Australia, mainly due to a surge in wealth from countries such as China. However, professors of universities from all the major countries affected sadly seem to be fighting an uphill battle between cheating students, and hunger for the overseas dollar. Many professors have quit their jobs in protest of unethical and corrupt behaviour.
Helping students from non-English speaking countries gain access to universities abroad is a booming business, in China especially. The Global Times reported, “an employee with a Shenzhen-based education agency was quoted by the People’s Daily as saying that the agency charges each student ¥276,000 for the whole process, which lasts over two years and includes up to 20 months of studying in Manila to get a “green card”. While many are legitimate and appear to follow the rule of law from both countries, many are not.
Scam after scam is being reported of unreachable promises made and excessive money spent, meaning at the end of the day vulnerable Chinese students and parents end up penniless and disappointed. While universities abroad continue to pay a commission to these agencies; it seems this trend will continue to increase.
While it remains one thing to help cheat mainlanders into universities abroad, surprisingly the very same thing is happening within Chinese mainland universities themselves.
Mainland students have been caught posing as overseas Chinese students in order to get placed into good Chinese universities. The test given to an overseas student is substantially easier than the test mainlanders have to sit. As a result, this has given way to a surge in agencies swindling people out of their money by helping them get into prestigious Chinese universities.
The Shanghai Municipal Education Commission released a statement on Chinese social media site Weibo, which says they have instructed local education bureaus to investigate cases of preschool schools unfairly testing both the prospective child and the parent. The report said that these actions, “violate basic principals of equality in education”. However, when Chinese officials tried to crack down on cheating on the “Gao Kao” (college entrance exam) recently, hundreds of parents reportedly took the streets in protest shouting, “we want fairness, there is no fairness if you do not let us cheat”.