Australia: Degrees of Deception

A Four Corners investigation has unearthed alarming new evidence of a decline in academic standards at institutions around the country.

Lecturers and tutors are grappling with a tide of academic misconduct and pressure from faculty managers to pass weak students. Many say commercial imperatives are overtaking academic rigour.

But why is this happening?

As Federal Government funding for universities has declined, Vice-Chancellors have been forced to look elsewhere to fill the void.

And for much of the past two decades, they’ve been tapping into a booming market — full fee-paying overseas students.

Right now the country’s 40 universities are pulling in billions of dollars from students who are desperate for a degree from an Australian university and the possibility of a job and permanent residency.

But to ensure a steady flow of students from overseas, universities have had to ensure their entry requirements are sufficiently low…

…Despite the promises of agents, and after meeting universities’ entry requirements, many don’t have the level of English needed to successfully undertake a degree course.

It’s a situation that leaves students isolated and desperate; a scenario fuelling a thriving blackmarket in plagiarism and the corruption of some academics…

No doubt it’s the same all over the West.

  • Petey

    It’s happened here in Canada. I work in research as an engineer and had the misfortune of dealing with two Ph.D.’s from Ryerson’s electrical engineering program, both foreign students keen to get citizenship and work in Canada.

    They were frauds. There is no other word for it.

    I’ve worked with and under people from Stanford and MIT. A good friend went to grad school at Caltech. An old boss was a Rhodes scholar. I know the real thing and I know BS when I see it. They were BS.

    It’s too bad. As in economics, bad money drives out the good. It’s the same with false credentials.

    • The education bubble is desperate to maintain itself.

      • Petey

        Of course this presents a tremendous opportunity in making extra money by tutoring. This has become a booming business. Check out the Globe and Mail article from this weekend:

        Also check out kijiji. There are a LOT of public school teachers who are paid a salary to teach our children properly in the first place making money on the side tutoring to cover for other teachers incompetence. And I mean a LOT.

        This kind of double dipping should be illegal.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      I worked in hotels and restaurants for twenty years.
      Near the end I started seeing ‘Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management’ on people’s resumes.
      I was passed over once because someone had one of those pieces of paper.
      I suffered two years as his assistant before someone finally had the guts to fire his incompetent ass and I got the job.
      A job I kept until I didn’t want it anymore.
      One of my fellow department heads was an instructor at the local college.
      He taught bartending.
      We’d argue about setting up a bar rail.
      No, I’d say. The order is rye, rum, vodka, scotch, gin.
      Left to right.
      When I went back to college to get a diploma in electronic engineering I was astonished to find that my tuition was less than the hospitality students.
      (I would have gone for a bachelor’s in engineering but the opportunity cost in lost wages for the extra two years when you have a wife and two kids is more than I cared to gamble.)
      Here I was quitting a job that they were training for and they were paying more for the privilege of earning less than I had or would.
      I didn’t see too many people floating through our program.
      The attrition rate from orientation day to graduation was seventy percent.
      Maybe it could have been more if I hadn’t been a nice guy and given my code away to people just to get them to leave me alone.

    • yup

      Dad had to teach BASIC MATH TO CANADIAN STUDENTS in engineering
      and …
      he had to get rid of ALL ESSAYS because the FOREIGN STUDENTS could NOT write them = everything was presentation
      He had a student tell him once that one ethnicity would take all the previous copies of exams from the library and put them in their own cultural centre

  • I wonder how those Saudi Med students are doing in their suit against U of Ottawa.

  • laugh at the world

    I was in a class with a guy who could not hold a simple conversation with me … = he got 100% on a mid-term

  • Dana Garcia

    Same deal in the US, which now has over a million “international” students, a 50% increase from 2010. Of course standards have fallen so the firehose of cash can continue.


  • pop


    Take the time to watch this with a cup of coffee.

    Everyone passes. Listen about the nurse who admistered dish washing liquid , passed and yet couldn’t read english.

    • Waffle

      Thanks for providing the link. I have seen the results up close and personal in the nursing graduates that are working in our hospitals. Very scary. Medication errors abound. Too many travesties occurring in our hospitals to go into here. Just check everything, is what I suggest.

  • Frances

    Family member went to uni in eastern Europe. There was a “middle man” involved, though didn’t realize it until actually in program. Foreign students had own, English-language program. Foreigners weren’t going to be failed, but neither were they going to be given straight “A’s”. The comment our family member heard was that one very much made one’s own degree.

    Four years later, family member graduated top of the class, straight “A’s”, and having had a great time. Also learned a lot, and to this day is very thankful to the university for first taking him on and then giving him the opportunity to learn so much.

  • Tanya

    Australia the “Buy your Degree” capital of the world. I know primary school kids that are smarter than some of the university grads that are coming out of some of our universities these days, especially if you come from some of the more corruptible and down right unfriendly countries. Look mommy, daddy bought me a degree from and Aussie Uni and I can now practice voodoo with a licence. PATHETIC!

  • Brett_McS

    The University of Newcastle was caught in one of these schemes. It’s the norm in South East Asian universities where most of our overseas students come from, for the degree course to be a ‘pay your (Dad’s) money, get your degree’ affair, where the student proceeds to goof off for three or four years then get a job in Dad’s business.