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Student Reputation Dragged through the Mud says NZISA

Additional reporting by Ben Webber

The New Zealand International Students' Association is disappointed by recent allegations that claim widespread cheating among international students.

The allegations stem from a TVNZ story that suggested the use of ghost-writers was prevalent among international students from the University of Auckland.

NZISA Education Officer, Umi Asaka said in a statement that she was disappointed in this portrayal of international students.

"It is so outrageous that they can call half of us cheaters not knowing all the hard work we put in and barriers that we have to jump through."

Neyra Rong Nie, President of the New Zealand Chinese Student Association, said International Student Reputation Dragged Through the Mud, says NZISA NZCSA condemns all cheating behaviour.

"How can the voice of three students be counted as evidence for an alleged systemic problem?

“There is no evidence that it is widespread in the Chinese Students Association,” she said.

Lisa Finucane, Media and Communications Manager at the University of Auckland said that recent claims in the media about international students having ghost-written essays were based on alleged numbers.

"Neither the Chinese Students Association nor the university has evidence or even a belief that the numbers of students using ghost-writers is of the scale alleged by an undetermined number of students quoted in recent media reports."

The University of Auckland is, however, concerned about any cheating that might occur and there are strategies in place to prevent it from happening, she said.

"We work with benchmark institutions to share practice and educate our staff around the behavioural patterns of students who may be engaged in this activity."

Both the University of Auckland and AUT use plagiarism detection software ‘Turnitin’. This technology cannot, however, detect ghost-writing.

AUTSA International Affairs Officer, Divya Kataria said no AUT international students had spoken with her about using ghost-writers, but she had suspicions that some could be using these services.

Kataria said she would be compassionate if anyone struggling academically was to come forward.

“I had the honour of going to an English-speaking school and I was brought up in Delhi…but a lot of people come to New Zealand from different cities or villages and they might not have a good grasp of English.”

Kataria said the IELTS English exam, one of the English language tests that Immigration New Zealand uses, is not a good measure of language skills and that something similar to the SAT exams used for US college admission would be a better measure of capability.

“It’s a very intensive examination where you have to prepare a lot.

“People who come here would be better prepared, or at least would know when to start preparing or what kind of education is required.”

AUT Head of Communications, Alison Sykora, said the university had measures in place to ensure students did not cheat.

"Like universities around the world, we are concerned about any form of cheating and make it clear to our students that there are consequences.

"Academic discipline figures over the last few years show a decline in the number of students who have cheated by plagiarising, which includes ghost-written essays.”

She said the university is currently working on a trial that would provide those using an identified ghost-writing website on an AUT computer with a warning.

The warning would mention that cheating can lead to expulsion and would direct students to online library resources on how to get assistance if they are struggling to complete their assignment.

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