Foreign students studying at US universities are seen to cheat more than American students, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.
Citing data from 14 large public universities, The Journal noted that public universities recorded 5.1 reports of alleged cheating per 100 international students, compared to one report of cheating per 100 American students.
The Journal requested data from 50 different public universities with student bodies heavy with foreign enrollment, though only 14 were able to provide complete data for the 2014-15 academic year.
At nearly every school, reports of cheating involving foreign students were twice as high, ranging up to as much as eight times as high at some institutions.
Faculty interviewed about the phenomenon attributed it to the fact that foreign students either don’t understand or accept US standards of academic integrity, according to The Journal.
But responses varied on why standards of academic integrity differed between American and foreign, especially Chinese, students.
“In China, it’s OK to cheat as long as you’re not caught,” Lanqing Wang, a Georgia Institute of Technology student originally from Shanghai, told The Journal.
Others weren’t as willing to say that cheating was acceptable in China and, instead, pointed to intense pressure to succeed.
“In China, our culture puts a lot of pressure on students,” Paidi Shi, vice president of a Chinese student group at the University of California at San Diego, said. “We are more likely to find a shortcut to get a good grade.”
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Still, others attributed at least some of the issue to the fact that cheating may be more obvious in foreign students.
For example, if a foreign pupil with poor written English suddenly turns in a perfect paper, then a professor would likely scrutinize it more than if an American student did so, even if the American student had plagiarized.
The Journal’s analysis isn’t the first time reports about cheating being common among Chinese students have surfaced. Law-enforcement officials have recently investigated test-taking scams where Chinese students hire testing proxies to take tests like the SAT or GRE.
In 2015, more than a dozen current and former US college students from China were arrested and pleaded guilty to participating in such a cheating scheme, according to The Hechinger Report.
The number of foreign students in American schools has been surging over the past decade. Last year, 1.13 million foreign students were enrolled in the US, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing US Department of Homeland Security data. That number represented a nearly 50% increase from 2010 and an 85% increase from 2005, according to The Journal.
While universities are working to tamp down on pervasive cheating among international students, it’s not as straightforward a process as one might expect. To start, the desire to retain foreign students who pay higher tuition than their American counterparts could conflict with schools’ motivations.
“I can assure you that somewhere someone at the university is doing a calculus about how much tuition they would lose if they start coming down hard on students who cheat,” Beth Mitchneck, a University of Arizona professor, told The Journal.