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					                               THE AGE: Uni urged to reopen cheat probe

August 4 2003
By Graeme Webber, Sharon Mathieson

Australia's multibillion-dollar tertiary education export program could be damaged by an alleged
plagiarism scandal at Newcastle University, according to federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson.

NSW's Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating claims that plagiarism by fee-paying
students from Malaysia was ignored or covered up by the university.

Australian lecturer Ian Firns said he gave 15 students at a partner institution in Malaysia zero marks for
verbatim use of material from the internet without attribution, only to find the papers were reassigned to
another lecturer who passed the students and awarded credits and distinctions.

Dr Nelson has called on the university to reopen the case, aired by the Nine network's Sunday program
yesterday.

"If the public perception is that confidence is not being maintained then I think the university should give
consideration to reopening the case, to re-examining the case," he said.

 "If we have a number of instances involving one or more universities, whether in Australia or indeed at
offshore campuses, which are considered and indeed found in fact to be totally unacceptable, then
obviously our entire reputation as a country is diminished."

Vice-Chancellor Professor Roger Holmes yesterday admitted that staff had failed to follow Newcastle
University's policy, but denied claims the students had been marked softly because they had paid full fees.

All alleged plagiarism - intentional and unintentional - should be investigated by a formal inquiry but two
staff members at the Newcastle campus had incorrectly opted for a re-mark, he said. "We deny the
allegation that the university is soft on marking international fee-paying students (or) that the
investigation into this particular case was faulty in any way," Professor Holmes said.

"The school unfortunately made some errors with respect to handling the plagiarism case."

We deny that the university is soft on marking international fee-paying students.

Professor Holmes defended the delay in settling the matter and awarding credits and distinctions before
the allegations had been dismissed. "It is still under investigation and the students involved may be
subject to penalty and those results may then be reviewed," he said.

The Opposition's education spokeswoman, Jenny Macklin, said the serious allegations needed an outside
review. AAP

                           PETALING JAYA: Australian plagiarism scandal

Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang

The Cabinet must take a serious view of the Australian plagiarism scandal involving Malaysian students
as it affects not only the good name of Malaysian students and the country, but also the future of tertiary
education as a centre of academic excellence to compete for international students. ...
The Cabinet should direct the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad to conduct a comprehensive,
independent and professional investigation into the allegation by the Australia's education minister,
Brendan Nelson when he urged Newcastle University to reopen a case in which it secretly re-marked the
assignments of 15 students who had been failed for plagiarism at a campus it runs in Malaysia.

It has been alleged that the 15 were initially awarded zero marks for using unattributed material from the
Internet in an assignment, but their former lecturer claimed the university overruled his decision because
it was concerned about losing revenue from offshore students.

The students at the university's graduate school of business at Institut Wira in Kuala Lumpur were
subsequently issued pass marks, some of them receiving distinctions.

The Newcastle Herald had reported that the allegations include claims that comments by the original
markers were erased and the papers were marked again, with the papers' original marker, Ian Firns,
quoted as saying: "The top marks were given to identified cheats".

Ian Firns has lodged a complaint with the New South Wales state corruption watchdog ICAC over the
affair.

The Malaysian government must not countenance plagiarism by Malaysian students in foreign
educational institutions in the country, but it must also not allow Malaysia's reputation to be sullied
without proper basis.

The Education Ministry should order a separate investigation as the plagiarism scandal occurred in the
Wira Institut in Kuala Lumpur.
The government has announced the target of enrolling 50,000 foreign students in public and private
educational institutions in Malaysia by 2010 from the present 32,000 foreign students, hoping to net
around RM 1.25 billion annually.

 All the ambitions to develop Malaysia into an international centre of academic excellence with a sizable
foreign student population to earn revenue for Malaysia would all come to nought if Malaysia acquires
the international notoriety of a rogue educational centre where plagiarism and fake educational
qualifications are rampant and unchecked.

By Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman Watchdog to probe Uni plagiarism scandal


Sunday, 3 August 2003

Federal Education Minister Dr Brendan Nelson says Australia's $5.2 billion higher education industry is
at risk with plagiarism claims at the University of Newcastle being referred to the New South Wales
corruption watchdog.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has confirmed it has received material in
relation to a case where 15 students received pass marks despite earlier being failed for plagiarism.

The group in question were full-fee paying students of the university's partner institution in Malaysia.

Dr Nelson has told Channel Nine's Sunday program it is important the university gets to the bottom of the
issue.
"The fact is that perception and reputation in higher education is absolutely everything," Dr Nelson said.

"If we have a number of instances involving one or more universities which are considered, or indeed
found, in fact to be totally unacceptable, then obviously our entire reputation as a country is diminished."

Newcastle University Vice Chancellor Professor Roger Holmes admitted there will have to be a second
independent inquiry into a plagiarism scandal at the university.

In March, academic Ian Firns alleged 15 cases of plagiarism by international students were ignored by the
university.

A subsequent independent inquiry cleared staff of misconduct and the students received credits for their
papers.

Mr Firns has now referred the matter to ICAC.

Professor Holmes says he is confident the university will be cleared of all allegations and says an ICAC
investigation should clear the matter up once and for all, and that the university acted properly.

"There was a misunderstanding of the policy and we're currently reviewing the policy itself, and so this
particular case has thrown up one or two issues within the policy that we need to address," he said.

"Everybody thought that the policy was relatively straightforward, but it did throw up an area of
misunderstanding.

"I'm relieved in a way that its been referred there, so that it will be an independent inquiry undertaken,
and in a sense we will be fully participating in the inquiry," he said.


                                    Uni of Newcastle 'compromised'...
06/08/ 03
By Dorothy Illing

THE head of the University of Newcastle, which is at the centre of a scandal over its handling of
plagiarism allegations, has conceded the institution's national and international reputation has been
damaged.

As another case of plagiarism at Newcastle was revealed at the weekend, vice-chancellor Roger Holmes
said he would vigorously defend the university's standards and plagiarism policies.

And in an extraordinary move, federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson has weighed into the matter,
which is before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Dr Nelson told Channel Nine's Sunday program that perception and reputation in Australia's $5.2 billion
education export industry "is absolutely everything".

"If the public perception is that confidence is not being maintained, then I think the university should give
consideration to reopening the case," Dr Nelson said.

He was referring to allegations that the university tried to cover up a complaint that 15 fee-paying master
of business administration students at its Malaysian campus had plagiarised their assignments.
Ian Firns, a Perth-based business consultant and casual lecturer at several universities, says 15 of 53
assignments in an MBA subject he was teaching were plagiarised.

The assignments were reassigned to another lecturer, who delivered marks ranging from 18 to 29.5
out of 35


July 16                                    HES

An inquiry into the affair by the University of Western Sydney's graduate school of business director
David Lamond concluded that staff at Newcastle "did not exercise their responsibilities in dealing with
Mr Firn's allegations".

But it put this down to a "fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of plagiarism as defined by the
university's policy". No disciplinary action was recommended.

Mr Firns, who has referred the matter to the ICAC, wants Professor Holmes and chancellor Ric Charlton
to resign. This week Professor Holmes confirmed reports of another case, where a postgraduate student
plagiarised two other students' theses for her honours thesis, which was published in 2000.

The student is now enrolled in a PhD at Newcastle and is a casual tutor.

The Newcastle Herald also reported on Saturday that the NSW Ombudsman is finalising investigations
into the university's handling of a further case of plagiarism, this time by one academic against another.

Professor Holmes said the Ombudsman's report was a "personnel matter" and that it would not be
released.

The chief executive of the universities' international marketing arm, IDP Education Australia, said quality
assurance for Australian universities was the strongest it had been.
But Lindy Hyam said the visibility of the international education industry and the financial pressures on
universities were greater now.

"It is always going to be a juggling act for institutions to balance quality and affordability for international
students. But all universities fully understand the criticality of ensuring and maintaining quality and
standards," she said.

                                               The Australian

Plagiarism scandal could hurt Australia’s education exports: education minister
Scandal involving Newcastle University might damage higher education exports worth billions of dollars


Aug 6                                         SYDNEY, A F P

Australia’s education minister raised concerns that a plagiarism scandal involving Malaysian students at
an Australian-run university would damage higher education exports worth billions of dollars.

Brendan Nelson urged Newcastle University to reopen a case in which it secretly re-marked the
assignments of 15 students who had been failed for plagiarism at a campus it runs in Malaysia.
The 15 were initially awarded zero marks for using unattributed material from the Internet in an
assignment, but their former lecturer claims the university overruled his decision because it was
concerned about losing revenue from offshore students.

The students at the university’s graduate school of business in Kuala Lumpar were subsequently issued
pass marks, some of them receiving distinctions.

Nelson said a university investigation had failed to thoroughly examine the plagiarism claims and left
important questions unanswered.

He said the scandal could sully Australia’s reputation for high academic standards and damage the
booming education sector.

"Perception and reputation in higher education is absolutely everything," Nelson told Nine Network
television.

"If we have a number of instances involving one or more universities, whether in Australia or indeed at
offshore campuses, which are considered and indeed found in fact to be totally unacceptable then
obviously our entire reputation as a country is diminished."

Overseas students pay full fees averaging 20,000 dollars (13,000 US) a year when studying at Australian
universities and higher education exports now total more than 5.2 billion dollars a year.

Nelson said the Newcastle University council needed to reassure him that its processes were impeccable.

He also warned universities against targeting whistleblowers who alerted authorities to corruption or
malpractice.

"There will be absolutely no sympathy, from me or the Commonwealth government, for any university
that seeks to vilify or to otherwise persecute an academic who brings forward a serious concern in the
relation to the quality of education that is being delivered," he said.

The lecturer involved in in the Newcastle University case, Ian Firns, has lodged a complaint with the New
South Wales state corruption watchdog ICAC over the affair.

There are about 150,000 students enrolled in local courses in other countries.

- Singapore was the top education export market in 2001/02, with 22,000 students enrolled
   in Australian courses,
- followed by Hong Kong       (20,655)
- Malaysia                    (18,500)
- China                        (17,000)
- Indonesia                    (9,900)
- and India                   (6,200)


        Information’s copied from different Internet sides, some of them sent to me by email

				
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