Posted by: Geoff Gloeckler on July 26, 2010
A small New Jersey college has decided to close its China MBA program after finding evidence that students there engaged in rampant cheating.
Centenary College, a Hackettstown-NJ-based institution, ended its MBA program for Chinese-speaking students after finding “evidence of widespread plagiarism,” the school said in a statement posted on its website today. The China MBA program was based in Beijing, Shanghai, and Taiwan. All 400 students have been given the choice of accepting a tuition refund—as much as $1,400—or taking a comprehensive exam to earn a degree, The Star-Ledger reported.
According to the statement, all but two students have thus far decided to take a refund. Students have until July 30 to make a decision. It is also noted in the statement that students who cheat are ordinarily dismissed from the school, but the China MBA students are being given more leniency “in an effort to afford students every fair possibility.”
Centenary officials were unavailable for comment on Monday.
Donald McCabe, founder of the Center for Academic Integrity and professor of global business at Rutgers University, says that to his knowledge, no college has ever closed a program after identifying widespread cheating. But he also does not know of another school that has found 400 students who may have committed plagiarism.
According to Centenary's Academic Code of Conduct, "the college expects students to conduct themselves honestly in all academic activities." The document offers examples of academic dishonesty and provides a definition of plagiarism. Students who commit plagiarism normally receive a zero for their work. "Flagrant cases of academic dishonesty" could result in a student being kicked out of a class or dismissed from the school, the document says. (It is not known if the Chinese-speaking students in the China MBA program were given copies of the Academic Code of Conduct)
The school first noticed the plagiarism and other unspecified issues after its president, Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, launched a review of the China MBA program in January 2009. After the review, the school appointed a new dean of international programs who is responsible for the school's exit from China, according to the statement.
In deciding how to respond to the academic dishonesty, Centenary also consulted with an international law firm and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which accredits the school. "The College and its counsel have been working diligently to resolve this situation in a manner that is fair and in the best interests of both the program's students and the College as a whole," Centenary's statement says.
Centenary is not the first to be tripped up by cheating B-school students. In 2007, Duke University's Fuqua School of Business punished 34 first year students for cheating on a take-home exam. Schools have also battled cheating on the GMAT. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) canceled the scores of 84 test-takers who used a test-prep website to view GMAT questions in 2008. Some students in China have long gained access to questions from actual GMAT exams on websites and online forums, and GMAC has been working to shut down those sites and invalidate the scores of students who use them.
According to Rutgers' McCabe, schools need to educate students in order to curb cheating. "Make sure to tell students what's expected of them and the implications if they don't follow the expectations," he says.
Educating students is especially important when schools open campuses abroad or bring in foreign students, McCabe says. He notes that some foreign students--particularly from parts of Asia--don't have the same understanding of cheating and plagiarism as their American counterparts. And they may be under more pressure to cheat, he says, in part because they risk embarrassment or the loss of government scholarships if they don't maintain high GPAs.
-By Zachary Tracer