International students disproportionately accused of cheating

A recent investigation by The Globe and Mail has found that academic offences are committed by a disproportionately high number of international students, as compared to their domestic counterparts.

“I would say, anecdotally, that well over 50 per cent of [academic offence clients] are international students,” said Karen Bellinger, of Downtown Legal Services — a legal clinic at U of T. The number is alarming, considering that only 12 per cent of U of T students come from outside of Canada.

A report by Danielle Istl, at the University of Windsor, found that international students were accused of academic offences three times as much as domestic students.

Different cultural understandings of plagiarism were cited as a likely reason for the discrepancy. Some school systems outside of North America are based on rote learning, where copying verbatim from a teacher earns top grades. Students of such systems can face confusion when they are expected to use their own words and ideas.

A study by the UK Higher Education Academy found the top reason for student plagiarizism was a “lack of awareness of referencing conventions.”

Another reason mentioned by the Globe was language barriers ­— some students resort to copying when paraphrasing is difficult.

Most experts suggested extensive language and cultural training for international students as a possible solution to this problem. —Cherise Seucharan


Dalhousie dumps Turnitin, cites U.S. servers

Dalhousie University, in Halifax, recently decided to terminate its contract with the controversial plagiarism-detecting software site Turnitin.com.

The university had learned that student papers, uploaded to the site to check for plagiarism, “were being stored on U.S. servers, instead of Canadian ones, which was against the school’s wishes,” said the school’s chief information officer.

“This has created a massive problem for faculty,” an assistant professor told the Toronto Star. “We don’t have any resources in place to help us.” The school says it will find a replacement quickly.

Student groups, like Dalhousie’s Student Union and the Canadian Federation of Students, oppose Turnitin and similar companies because of issues of intellectual property rights, and security concerns.

“It’s basically adopting a policy that students are guilty of plagiarism before they are proven innocent,” said CFS chair Roxanne Dubois.

Turnitin claims to serve over 10,000 educational institutions in 126 countries. U of T is among its clients. —Tanya Debi


We’re number two!

For the sixth year in a row, McGill University took the top Canadian spot in the QS World University Rankings, once again beating-out U of T. McGill placed 17th globally, up from 19th last year, while the University of Toronto placed 23rd, up from 29th. Cambridge took top spot overall, followed by Harvard, MIT, Yale, and Oxford.

QS, which compiled the list, considers 2,000 different schools before selecting the top 400 for the list. Rankings are determined using indicators such as academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty-to-student ratio, and citations-per-faculty.

With files from The Gazette (Montreal).­ —Abdullah Shihipar


Chicago uni puts tuition on Groupon

Last week the National Louis University in Chicago posted the first Groupon deal for tuition.

The graduate course, Intro to the Profession and Craft of Teaching, regularly costs $2,232. However, through Groupon, the class only cost $950.

The purpose of the deal was to attract new students. To sign up, an individual was required to have an undergraduate degree and could not be enrolled in a NLU graduate program. The course was not transferable and students would pay full tuition for other courses.

With files from Time Magazine. —Jonathan Wu


York arms cops with batons after high-profile sex assaults

York University is increasing security on campus to make students feel safer. Security personnel are being armed with batons and an extra $1.1 million is being invested in campus safety.

While York has seen gains in both domestic and international applicants, the move comes after a 0.6 per cent drop in enrolment confirmations in a year when Ontario confirmations grew by 2 per cent overall. Several highly publicized assaults are cited, including two rape cases and the murder of foreign student Qian Liu.

University spokesman Wallace Pidgeon told The Globe and Mail that the university has increased security costs from $8.9 million to $10 million since year. Pidgeon did not disclose how the money would be spent, although the university has recently hired 12 new security personnel. He stressed that the boost was not related to the assaults.

With files from Macleans. —Irina Vukosavic

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