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A U.S. college closed its China MBA program Due to “Widespread Plagiarism” among students

Posted by Author on July 31, 2010

By Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, Via USA Today –

It’s not uncommon for colleges to discontinue academic programs overseas for financial reasons. But Centenary College, in New Jersey, is shutting down an M.B.A. program in Asia to contain a plagiarism epidemic. About 400 students are currently enrolled in the program at locations in Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan.

“The college is extremely concerned with the welfare of the Chinese students involved in the program, but must note that its review revealed evidence of widespread plagiarism among other issues, at a level that ordinarily would have resulted in students’ immediate dismissal from the college,” Debra Albanese, Centenary’s vice president for strategic advancement, said in a statement. “Despite that, in an effort to afford students every fair possibility, the college has opted to attempt to reach an amicable solution, in lieu of any such dismissal. The students were offered a choice to receive a tuition refund in exchange for a standard release in higher education or take a comprehensive exam in order to earn a degree.”

Students have until July 30 to make the choice, and so far, according to Centenary, all but two who’ve replied have accepted the refund. College officials declined to elaborate beyond the written statement, and did not answer specific questions in regard to what, if any, judicial procedures or preventative programs were in place at the satellite locations, or the nature of the academic misconduct uncovered.

A number of experts, however, said that the most surprising element of this case was that Centenary took the problem seriously enough to shut down its program. “For a lot of the American schools or foreign schools (in China), this is a cash cow,” noted Kathryn Mohrman, who is director of the University Design Consortium at Arizona State University and who has also been president of Colorado College and executive director of the Johns Hopkins University campus in Nanjing. “You don’t want to be too persnickety or you lose the revenue that comes from these programs.”

“I would certainly say,” Mohrman added, “Centenary is not the only school that has suffered this problem.”

Academic misconduct is a particularly pervasive problem in China, where it infiltrates the higher education system from the undergraduate ranks on up. Increasingly, commentators have speculated about whether the country’s reputation for plagiarism and research misconduct will hamper the rise of Chinese universities, per a recent series of news articles to this effect in the American (CBS News: “Rampant Academic Cheating Hurts China’s Ambition”), British (The Economist: “Replicating Success”), and state-run Chinese press (China Daily: “Academic Corruption Undermining Higher Education”). (A new post on Inside Higher Ed’s World View blog also explores the issue.)…… (more details from the USA Today)

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