The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has urged universities in NSW to consider a range of measures reduce the risk of corruption in the international student industry.
“In the search for international students, some universities in NSW are entering markets where document fraud and cheating on English-language proficiency tests are known to exist,” ICAC said in its latest research paper.
According to the Paper “Learning the hard way: managing corruption risks associated with international students at universities in NSW”, there are instances of corruption in some English-language testing centres, where exam invigilators read out answers to multiple-choice tests and employed test sitters to complete English tests, while the genuine applicants watched.
According to the paper, universities use dodgy overseas education agents, ignore plagiarism and lower education standards in a desperate effort to boost numbers of international students.
“Some universities are using up to 300 local intermediaries or agents to market to and recruit students, resulting in due diligence and control challenges.”
According to IELTS guidelines, linguistically demanding academic courses require a band score of between 7.5 and 9.
“According to the information on its website, one university offers a bachelor of laws – a linguistically demanding course – to students with an IELTS score of 6”.
The Victorian Ombudsman has also highlighted the need for a review of English-language proficiency standards.
According to a 2007 article, of 12,116 international students who obtained permanent residency in Australia in 2005–06 after graduating, 34% did not have competent levels of English despite entering and graduating from university under the requisite guidelines.
The Commission spoke with an official at one leading university in NSW who recounted a case where over 200 students were caught plagiarising an assignment.
“Students may be struggling to pass, but universities cannot afford to fail them,” the paper notes.