MALAYSIAN CHEATS AT FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES
WHY THE UN, THE WORLD BANK AND OTHER FOREIGN REPORTS ON EDUCATION MUST BE TAKEN WITH A TONNE OF SALT
UN special representatives and UNESCO, the US government’s own educational assessment teams and other multilateral bodies beholden to the west or running western agendas have in recent years written highly unfavourable reports about Malaysia’s education system. These reports have been highly critical of Malaysia’s education system often unfairly and unrealistically comparing it to the education systems of places like the UK, US and Australia where many middle class Malaysian students go to study.
What all of these reports without exception have avoided mention of are the deteriorating and incredulous standards of many universities in the US, the UK and Australia and how they have deteriorated over the past few decades into shadows of their former selves.
Universities in each of these countries have virtually become degree factories for those from places like Malaysia who are able to afford their fees and meet the most basic (as opposed to stringent) requirements for entry into these institutions.
There are those amongst Malaysia’s opposition who are most vociferous in their condemnation of the Malaysian system quoting generously from these selective and doctored reports from abroad condemning Malaysia’s education system.
How could anyone forget the University of London’s awarding a PhD in engineering to Saif Al Islam Ghadaffi in return for a 1.5 million euro donation to the university. The scandal caused the resignation of amongst others Lord Patel from the board of the UoL.
There are many more examples of the decadence, the corrupted standards at universities in the UK, the US and Australia Malaysians and other Asians tend to look up to as pillars of knowledge, education and higher learning.
Not long ago an FBI investigation into education fraud discovered a thriving business of “ring ins” for foreign students sitting the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and the GMAT (Graduate Management Aptitude Test), the benchmark for entry to America’s best business, finance and law schools.
The scam run out of New Jersey works in a way whereby experienced and educated individuals are paid a fee to attend and sit the GRE and GMAT exams at various centres throughout the US using fake ID’s to represent a registered candidate.
The FBI believes up to 23% of entrants to top US business schools have gained entry to schools of their choice through this method. A question that arises then is how do they manage once admitted to these institutions?
MALAYSIAN CHEATS IN AUSTRALIA –AIDED BY A FLAWED EDUCATION SYSTEM
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD IN 2003 REPORTED THUS:
“Moi Pak Choong, Mandy Wong and Lim Kok Lin poured $100,000 into Australia’s burgeoning education industry but are ashamed to admit they have degrees from one of our major regional universities.
The Malaysian students have been labelled cheats, potential employers are demanding proof that their masters degrees are legitimate and the students are desperate to distance themselves from Australia.
They turned their backs on Malaysia’s university system, convinced they would receive a superior tertiary education in Australia – and the students were prepared to pay thousands of dollars for that education.
International students are cash cows for funding-starved institutions and are estimated to be worth more than $2 billion to Australian universities each year.
Earlier this year, the students completed their Master of Business Administration degrees through the University of Newcastle. But they fear their qualifications will soon be worthless as the university that awarded them plunges deep into an administrative crisis.
On line opinion an e-journal of social and political debate reported the following a little later”
Adeline Lee Zhia Ern, a Malaysian writer was caught plagiarizing Jack Canfield’s ‘Chicken Soup for the Soil IV’ in her first book ‘Lethal Lesson and other stories’, where her book was withdrawn from the market and destroyed. She is not alone in this regard. Perhaps one of few who was caught out.
An editor working for the New Straits Times, Brendan Pereira was dismissed because of plagiarizing the work of US journalist Mitch Albom. Last year, the Malaysian national news agency Bernama suspended a journalist for plagiarizing an article from the Jakarta Post.
Plagiarism is difficult to avoid especially where styles of writing have now evolved into smart short sentences, stock phrases and cliches. But that’s not the point of this article. It is about a mindset of what in south east Asia the Chinese call “Kiasu”. Achievement at any cost or better still ‘chutzpah’ from the Yiddish, meaning something similar. The results of this form of chutzpah or Kiasu as others like to call it are devastating and morally corrosive. The practice being pervasive and dangerously infectious it has become hard to police. Money it is said lies at the core of this problem.
AUSTRALIA AS A SOURCE OF MALAYSIA’S NEW ELITE
A leaked report citing observations from a ministry of education report in Australia dating back to 2013 reinforces earlier findings from internal investigations and individual assessments from many of Australia’s 40 odd universities highly critical of Malaysian students at Australian universities.
The report appears to confirm what is known, that not much has changed amongst Malaysia’s elite and wealthy middle class students who come to Australia for what they believe is a more robust, reliable and credible education. Not so according to the leaked report.
The number of international students enrolling at Australian universities is steadily increasing, with 15.5 per cent more students choosing to study in one of Australia’s 40 universities, according to IDP Education Australia.
Monash, RMIT and Curtin University of Technology have the highest number of international students. Malaysian students (mainly wealthy Chinese Malaysians) dominate the professional faculties of law, engineering, medicine and architecture at Melbourne, Sydney, UNSW, UQ, Adelaide and UNWA.
The numbers of Malaysian students caught cheating and the numbers whose results are distinctively at variance to their performance in class raises doubts about the credibility of the results these students obtain at the end of their terms as the scandal grows exponentially each year.
Monash university would not comment or co-operate when we called to verify certain allegations about the number or percentage of Malaysians caught or suspected of cheating. Monash university was at one time around 1998 embarrassed by a revelation that their vice chancellor Dr. Robinson had admitted to plagiarism.
Newcastle university and the scandal involving 15 students is no isolated case it seems. The Newcastle university scandal instead appears to be the tip of a very large iceberg according to some.
Newcastle is not the only institution to be plagued by allegations of cheating, cover-ups and corruption. An inquiry was held at Perth’s Curtin University after it was alleged that an overseas student was twice caught plagiarising essays yet still received a degree, and University of Wollongong academic Ted Steele was sacked, and later reinstated, after claiming he was told to upgrade marks for honours students.
More recently an investigation into plagiarism at Murdoch university raised suspicions over the work of a Malaysian PhD student there. The outcome of any investigation into suspected irregularities into the student/ academic’s work has not been made public.
A FELLOWSHIP OF CHEATS- OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS
A leaked internal report said to have been authored from within the University of Tasmania about a decade ago identified amongst others, a now prominent Malaysian opposition politician member of state parliament and born again Christian at that, under suspicion of having had her work done for her by other students and possibly a tutor whilst at that University. The graduate obtained a law degree from the University of Tasmania.
Similar reports including strong anecdotal evidence emerging from Melbourne University, Sydney University, Monash and UNSW all indicate a strong consistent pattern of Malaysian students paying for their assessable take home assignments and take home examinations to be undertaken by others (paid professionals usually) on their behalfs without any personal effort on their part.
FOREIGN UNIVERSITIES-STRUCTURAL FLAWS ENCOURAGING CHEATING
The difficulty for universities in policing the misconduct of students lies in the structural and systemic flaws that opens the doors to such misconduct. The dangers of take home exams coupled with the high percentage of overall grades and scores attributed to each term assignment in unsupervised conditions lies at the core of this problem. It is a test of a student’s honesty. And it is easily recognizable that ‘Kiasu’ and honesty are not complimentary concepts.
Final year exams are made more easy because in most Australian universities these are ‘open book’ exams where students sit exams with a variety of texts and materials available for them to take into the exam halls during an examination. And out of that final year examination is a total of 40% of the final assessment. The remainder of student assessment 60% of it comes from their assignments which is a take home unsupervised effort.
OF CONSULTANTS AND STUDENT AID
The conduct of Malaysian students at universities in the US and UK offers little comfort to the more honourable and honest amongst them.
Two former Malaysian students, one in Washington DC, the other in Texas who claim to be “consultants” and “academics” on Malaysian and Asian political and social affairs were recently outed as being frauds with a very vivid imaginations making false claims to impress their friends in the old country.
In the case of the “consultant” in Washington DC the university did admit that an individual bearing the name of the identity we inquired about was part of a Malaysian NGO casually admitted to their humanities department. As to whether that individual was a consultant, the administration officer we spoke to referred to his lack or paucity in academic credentials to warrant such a position with their university. The man continues on his LinkedIn page to claim to be a consultant, lecturer and a lawyer in Washington DC.
It is widely known that many students at English universities from the privileged and connected families from Malaysia tend to be ‘assisted’ and ‘tutored’ to a standard acceptable to the university they are enrolled in. What this means is those from this privileged class in residence, apart from receiving personal tuition, enjoy a certain degree of personal attention where their academic pursuits are concerned. It is a special kind of attention not available to the ordinary fee paying student.
ONCE IT WAS AN INDIAN PRACTICE- HOW THE WORM HAS TURNED
There was a time when Indian degrees were denied recognition for the same reasons in Malaysia. Malaysian students who paid capitation fees to study medicine, economics and engineering were usually students who did not qualify to enter into these courses on merit or at the more competitive and expensive universities of the west.
Today Manipal University in south India formerly the by word for capitation fee medical degrees has cleaned up its act to become one of the foremost centres of educational excellence in Medicine in not just India but the world. Much like it, the Indian Institute of Technology too has become a world class institution whose former students now occupy positions as lecturers, tutors and researchers at some of the world’s best known institutions from Harvard and Yale to Cambridge and MIT in Massachusetts.
Education standards everywhere require a commitment and effort on the part of the student as much as it does on the reputation of the educational institution. One cannot survive without the other. Because after all reputations are always about good reputations. The rest gets swept under the carpet till discovered or coated in sugary unworthy public relations gloss for those students from Malaysia at Australian universities seeking to acquire for themselves an expensive brand instead of a good education.