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Nearly half of US Chinese student dismissals due to “academic dishonesty”

Almost half of Chinese international students who are dismissed by their universities in the US are asked to leave due to academic dishonesty, a new white paper has found. 

The report notes that many factors are at play when considering these dismissals. Photo: Unsplash

The most notable form of this academic dishonesty in the report is plagiarism

The report from Pittsburgh-based WholeRen Education, which helps “promote Sino-US education opportunities”, found that 47.9% of those students are dismissed due to academic dishonesty.

The white paper on Chinese international student dismissal and its consequences also indicated that poor academic performance was close behind as a reason, citing 46.3% of dismissals.

WholeRen compiled data from 11,096 students whose data sets were complete. Some 1,120 of those occurred from March of 2022 to March of 2023, and 1,000 of those were randomly selected for the report.

It comes as Chinese students are somewhat under a microscope, with geopolitical tensions between the US and China rising and declining Chinese student numbers, according to 2022’s Open Doors data.

WholeRen writes in the white paper that, despite academic dishonesty being the major reason for dismissals, it’s not simply a case of someone cheating – many factors come into play. 

The white paper divided intentional dishonesty when students knowingly and purposely violate rules and unintentional behaviour when students have a “lack of understanding of the academic integrity policies in American schools”.

The most notable form of this academic dishonesty is plagiarism. From 2022 to 2023, 53.8% of students dismissed due to academic dishonesty were dismissed as a result of plagiarism. 

The issue increased significantly in 2023, jumping almost 10% between March 2022 and March 2023, according to WholeRen’s data.

“Improper use of citation frequently caused Chinese international students to violate academic integrity policies. If students are not familiar with how and when to use citation, it can easily be labelled academic dishonesty – albeit unintentionally,” the white paper points out. 

Some 28.6% of this group were dismissed due to cheating, 7.8% due to ghostwriting – aka contract cheating for assignments where someone else is paid to take assignments – and 3.9% due to proxy-test taking. 

One student mentioned as a case study in the white paper, named as Student B, reportedly did not “manage his study time properly and found himself struggling” with deadlines – and ended up plagiarising online content to make them. 

Despite receiving a job offer, the student still hasn’t actually graduated – the situation “remains in flux”, the white paper said. 

“Improper use of citation frequently caused Chinese international students to violate academic integrity”

The intent behind the paper examines just this type of case, where students have difficulty adapting to life in the US due to culture differences. 

“It is very likely that the challenges they face will have a negative impact on their academic performance or even lead to behavioural misconduct which, in turn, may lead to warnings or suspension,” the white paper read. 

In general data presented by the white paper, 69.4% of the cases were undergraduate, 26% masters and 2% doctoral students. 

Around a quarter of those dismissed were in their senior year at a US university – showing that in a good amount of cases, it was only in their last year that issues began to surface. 

Over half of the cases were in schools in the US that were ranked one to 50 according to the rankings from US News and World Report.  

The rest were evenly split between institutions ranked 50 to 100, and above 100. In terms of location, most schools were either in California or New York – where a good portion of international students in the US flock to.

While academic dishonesty is the biggest dismissal reason, poor academic performance is close behind. 

However, again, another factor brought into play is also that not all students in that data set were simply lacking in academic performance – they were also affected by “attendance and psychological problems”. 

“Students should seek help as early as possible to explore different options and increase their chances of staying in the US,” the report concluded. 

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