WORDS || Anna Glen
Forty three students at Macquarie will face Disciplinary Committee hearings to explain how their names appeared on MyMaster, a website designed to facilitate plagiarism.
This is a direct result of the expose conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald late last year, which found a large number of students were turning to the website to purchase essays.
Macquarie University was the worst affected institution, with a total of 128 requests. This is a clear breach of the University’s Academic Honesty Policy and Student Code of conduct.
Today students received a stern email from Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor John Simons, who warned the hearings were a “timely reminder to the entire student community that cheating in exams and assignments will not be tolerated at our University under any circumstances”.
“Students who cheat may automatically fail assignments or whole units, and may even be excluded from the University for a year. This naturally has visa implications for international students. Where it’s believed a criminal act may have occurred, matters are referred to police for investigation,” Professor Simons wrote.
It is likely they many of the people in question are international students, as the MyMaster website was written entirely in Chinese.
Apart from the seriousness of academic misconduct, this raises important questions about whether international students are getting the support they need and if the current English requirements for admission are adequate.
The main reason students plagiarise is not to intentionally deceive but rather because of poor time management and pressure to obtain high grades. These problems are strongly felt by international students, many of whom have to work part time and maintain high grades to stay in their course.
Mental health problems among international students are also closely related to academic performance. Research by academics at La Trobe University and Monash University found “English language difficulties and adjusting to unfamiliar methods of teaching and learning were cited as major challenges.”
On its website, Macquarie acknowledges the difficulties faced by international students.
“International students can face a range of unique challenges that may impact their learning. To help students through these issues we have caring and
experienced Student Advisors who are available to talk through a wide range of issues.”
One way students can improve their writing is by attending the ‘Drop-in Clinics’ offered by the university, where students can receive free specialised advice on topics such as grammar, writing style and useful resources. They can also create a ‘learning plan’ with their advisors.
These workshops will be held in the mid session break from 7 April to 10 April and again between 13 April and 17 April.
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