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NZ student groups refute essay mill allegations

Student groups across New Zealand have hit back at a TVNZ report which uncovered instances essay mills being used within universities, saying the reputation of the country’s international students has been “dragged through the mud”.

The reputation of international students has been "dragged through the mud" according to student groups. Photo: UnsplashThe reputation of international students has been "dragged through the mud" according to student groups. Photo: Unsplash

One student claimed up to half of UA's international students had used contract cheating

Published in mid-May, the report interviewed two international students at the University of Auckland and one at Massey University, who alleged systemic contract cheating within the international student population.

“It is so outrageous that they can call half of us cheaters”

In a joint statement, student groups said they were disappointed by the report’s “lack of research”, adding they were not approached for comment prior to its publication.

“Three students at two different universities is not a clear representation of what is happening,” said Caitlin Barlow, vice president of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations.

“The actions of the minority should not ruin it for the majority. International students come to New Zealand for a world class education and live in a safe country, not to cheat.”

All three students interviewed admitted they had used the services of an essay mill at least once and said they knew of other students who also undertook the practice.

One student went on to claim as many as half of the University of Auckland’s international student population had used contract cheating, which the New Zealand International Students’ Association refuted.

“It is so outrageous that they can call half of us cheaters not knowing all the hard work we put in and barriers that we have to jump through,” said NZISA education officer, Umi Asaka.

In its statement, NZISA added the report failed to properly explore the reasons behind international students using the services of an essay mill. Among the factors, it said a lack of student support services, mental health concerns and clarity of instruction were most prevalent.

Several destinations countries have redoubled their efforts around academic integrity issues. In early 2019, reports in Malaysia alleged fake degrees were being sold for as little as £2,200.

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