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Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Cheating in Toronto points to much bigger problem.

The Toronto Star ran related stories in the past days regarding a litany of egregious practices in Toronto private high schools in which, to sum up, students were getting grades and diplomas on unsustainable bases. Hardly a new story, the report is nonetheless important for its sheer sweep and depth of excavation in this area.

Is there an international angle here? Indeed, there is. For years, we’ve reported on widespread cheating practices around the world and their implications including fairness and justice. We often hear institutions taking the position that overseas credentials ought to be taken at “face value”, with little regard to the risk that documents are faked, or as here, that gross inflation of grades (including conferring passes or better in entirely unwarranted circumstances) has taken place and apart from the complicated matter of developing a sense of concordance of a course mark from one jurisdiction to an equivalent in our own).

One doesn’t have to plumb the depths of other academic jurisdictions to have seen the problem. Our own frequent travellers to China would have seen common-place practices of the kind reported by The Star in provincially-regulated high schools. In our student recruitment work we have participated in several thousand personal interviews and overseen similar numbers of personal essays where it was apparent that the individuals’ reported official provincially-regulated English course mark could not possibly comport with the calibre observable orally and in writing. The chasm was unmistakable.

Now, we see that right here at home, and not at an isolated, single school, but extensively under the watch of the Ontario government, money is being traded for marks. If greater scrutiny is clearly needed in our own backyard, how much more so in programs run abroad, whether under the aegis of a Canadian Province or otherwise? And pity the Australian university, unwittingly, as we would be if the reverse were the case, that the Canadian student conferred with an ample scholarship offer there, was barely worthy of a high school pass here.



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About Dani

Dani has consulted universities, colleges, governmental and non-governmental organizations in the field of international education since 1997. He is co-founder of Higher-Edge, the parent of Overseas, Overwhelmed, and a director of the Canadian University Application Centre. He is a former international and human rights lawyer and holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toronto Law School.

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