"They Do It For Better Grades" - Study Finds International Students 5 Times More Likely To Cheat

The number of international students attending US universities is rising, which is a welcome sight for administrators looking for ways to offset costs and stay profitable. What is not such a welcome sight however, is the amount of cheating that the international students are doing.

For the most recent academic year, 586,208 international undergraduate students attended US colleges and universities. More than 165,000 were from China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia contributed 50,000 and 23,500 respectively as well according to the WSJ.

What the WSJ found was that along with the influx for foreign students, the amount of cheating in the universities is being done by those students is significant as well. In an analysis of more than a dozen US public universities found that in the 2014-20105 school year, 5.1 out of every 100 international students were alleged to be cheating. The number compares to just 1.0 out of every 100 domestic students who cheat.

UC Davis reported as much as 11.8 student per 100 international students cheated, followed by the University of Arizona and Georgia Tech who reported 11.2 per 100 each.

Lanquing Wang, a Georgia Tech student from Shanghai said that "In China, It's OK to cheat as long as you're not caught." Paidi Shi, vice president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at the University of California, San Diego words it slightly differently, saying "In China, our culture puts a lot of pressure on students. We are more likely to find a shortcut to get a good grade."

Qingwen Fan, has a theory that what drives the cheating is simply that in the US, the pressure subsides and kids want to enjoy life more.

“they want to enjoy life. They are busy with social stuff and everything they missed before. They start to cheat. They didn’t put in the time but they want to pass the test. That is kind of a cultural thing.”

Last year, Ohio State learned that a Chinese student had been advertising on a Chinese message board that he could guarantee an A on a test by taking it in someone's place. The price was $500 per test, and 30 students took the student up on the offer according to Kim Arcoleo, associate dean for transdisciplinary scholarship. "The cheating isn't limited to Chinese students, but we see a disproportionate amount coming from international students." Arcoleo added.

The University of Iowa is investigating at least 30 students suspected of paying professional test takers to take online exams in their place the school says. Some of the suspected impersonators took the online tests in China.

"Cheating among Chinese students, especially those with poor language skills, is a huge problem." Said Beth Mitchneck, a University of Arizona professor.

However some schools don't care for that angle, nor any excuse for academic dishonesty - A spokesman for Purdue University said the school stresses academic integrity at freshman orientation, and "we don't accept 'cultural confusion' as an excuse for dishonesty"


Sanctions from cheating can range from an F on an assignment to suspension or expulsion. At the University of Arizona, however, with over 11 reports of cheating per 100 people, no student was expelled.

"I can assure you that somewhere someone at the university is doing a calculus about how much tuition they would lose if they start coming down hard on students who cheat." said Mitchneck.

The risks of cheating are high however, as student visas can be revoked if students aren't enrolled in a US university.

Andrew Hang Chen, a consultant with WholeRen Education helps place Chinese students at US colleges helps those who need to transfer for a $4,000 fee. "We have to act very, very quickly. When we get a call, we are counting by the hour."

To be sure, not all students who cheat are foreign, and 60% of students on US campuses admit they cheated at least once in the last year according to the International Center for Academic Integrity.

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Wenhua Wu, a 21 year old Chinese economics major at the University of Pittsburgh sums it up best: "They do it for better grades, most of them don't get caught" - sounds like music to big investment banks ears. Send in those job applications immediately.