Academic integrity is critical to every aspect of education and increasing breaches of academic integrity are raising concerns about the international reputation of higher education in Australia.
Now, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is rolling out a national series of workshops to help higher education providers promote and protect academic integrity at their institutions, appointing the University of South Australia to lead the charge.
Led by international expert in academic integrity and ethics, UniSA’s Associate Professor Tracey Bretag, in partnership with Dr Guy Curtis, University of Western Australia; Dr Christine Slade, University of Queensland; and Dr Margot McNeill, International College of Management Sydney, the team will develop and deliver around 20 workshops across Australia.
Available to all universities and independent higher education providers, the workshops and accompanying toolkit aim to promote good practices and build a sector-wide culture of integrity.
“Academic integrity is the cornerstone of ethical academic practice,” Assoc Prof Tracey Bretag says.
“Yet increasing concerns about cheating, particularly, contract cheating – where a student will pay for someone else to complete an assignment or undertake an exam on their behalf – is on the rise in Australian universities.
“And, the real risk of fraudulent behaviours is that students could graduate without being fit for professional practice. For society, this could be devastating.”
Assoc Prof Bretag’s national study on contract cheating in Australian universities found that 6 per cent of students reported engaging in contract cheating behaviours, 15 per cent said they were buying, trading or selling notes, while 27 per cent claimed they had provided completed assignments to other students.
The issue of contract cheating has recently escalated to the Federal Government where proposed legislation will make it an offence to provide or advertise contract cheating services. Those providing these services could face up to two years’ in jail and fines of up to $210,000.
TEQSA’s academic integrity workshops will help higher education providers with measures to promote academic integrity, strategies to overcome barriers to create a culture of integrity, practices to prevent contract cheating, and evidence-based approaches to respond effectively to all academic integrity breaches through policy and procedural frameworks.
Assoc Prof Bretag says she is pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the important agenda of safeguarding the academic integrity and reputation of Australian higher education.
“For decades, UniSA has led the way in academic integrity research and practice,” Assoc Prof Bretag says.
“Sharing our combined knowledge of good practices, policies and procedures to best mitigate risk, is paramount if we are to tackle the issue head on.”
Beginning 28 October at EQUALS International, Adelaide, workshops will be held in metropolitan and key regional centres in late 2019 and early 2020, and higher education providers will receive invitations shortly.