Opinion / From the Press

Zero tolerance for plagiarism

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-24 08:50

A university teacher recently gave 91 undergraduate students zero score in their final papers for cheating. Many have criticized the teacher for being "excessively harsh" on the students, but such strictness should be encouraged in order to eradicate plagiarism from Chinese universities, says an article in People's Daily. Excerpts:

University teachers are usually under pressure from different sources to at least give pass marks to students to save them from further trouble, because students who fail (let alone get zero) in a subject face a lot of problems in their academic career. For example, they can be denied scholarships or refused admission by a good overseas university. Also, a school will get a bad name if many of its students fail.

Many students use unfair means to answer questions because they know they can get away with it. And surprisingly, teachers with zero tolerance for cheating and plagiarism are pressured by students and their parents, and even some higher officials of schools, to be lenient with such examinees.

Some schools use ridiculous excuses to compel teachers to turn a blind eye to cheating, without realizing that students who cheat as undergraduates are more likely to plagiarize others' works to get higher degrees.

Chinese universities have become factories to churn out graduates in large numbers but of questionable quality. Integrity and honesty are ignored to ensure that the production line runs smoothly.

To put universities back on the right track of cultivating students who are competent and have integrity, education departments must take measures to combat cheating and plagiarism in universities. Teachers who check students' papers strictly should be encouraged to continue to do so, instead of being pressured into adopting a lenient stance. Only in this way can students be made to realize that honesty and originality are the pillars of higher education.

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