CHEA and IIEP-UNESCO Issue Advisory Statement on Combatting Corruption in Higher Education

01 August 2016

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation/International Quality Group (CIQG) and the International Institute for Educational Planning of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IIEP-UNESCO) have issued an advisory statement on combatting corruption in higher education internationally. (View or download a copy of the statement in English or in French.)

Titled Advisory Statement for Effective International Practice: Combatting Corruption and Enhancing Integrity, the publication is a call to action that highlights the problems posed by academic corruption in higher education and suggests ways that quality assurance bodies, government and higher education institutions around the world can combat corruption.

The term “academic corruption” as used in the advisory statement refers to any prescribed action in connection with, for example, admissions, examinations or degree awarding that attempts to gain unfair advantage, including cheating, plagiarism, falsification of research, degree mills and accreditation mills.

The advisory statement grew out of an expert meeting held 30-31 March, 2016, in Washington D.C., that addressed quality assurance, accreditation and the role they play in combatting academic corruption. The two-day meeting brought together representatives from accrediting and quality assurance bodies, colleges and universities and higher education associations in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.

Sir John Daniel, co-chair of the expert meeting and rapporteur, commented: “Higher education must take the lead in combatting corruption for two reasons. First, if students encounter corrupt practices at college they are more likely to think of them as normal behavior in life. Second, the wellbeing of society depends on degrees and diplomas being truthful attestations to the knowledge and skills that graduates have acquired.”

“While some quality assurance agencies already use integrity standards, they could be more explicit on those practices through which higher education institutions could address corruption”, said Michaela Martin, in charge of IIEP’s quality assurance project.

The advisory statement notes that although effective quality assurance is a central element in addressing academic corruption, it cannot do the job alone. Corruption affecting the integrity of universities’ academic operations occurs both upstream (at the government level) and downstream (at all levels in higher education institutions) from the work of quality assurance bodies. “Action on a broad front is needed to attack the problem,” the advisory statement concludes.

“Clear identification of corruption risks is required to design adequate action,” stated Muriel Poisson, the other co-chair of the expert meeting and IIEP-UNESCO’s Head of Research. “The advisory statement provides useful guidance in this respect, by providing illustrations of corrupt practices in the organization of teaching, admissions, examinations and assessment, degree awarding and certification, and research publications; and by listing examples of effective preventive actions for each of these areas specifying each time which stakeholders to involve.”

“We are delighted to be co-publisher of this vital advisory statement and to have been co-host of the important and productive expert meeting,” said CHEA President Judith Eaton. “Providing an international forum to address issues related to quality assurance internationally is a central focus for CIQG.”

“IIEP-UNESCO will ensure the wide dissemination and use of the statement through its worldwide network of educational decision-makers and planners,” confirmed IIEP-UNESCO Director Suzanne Grant Lewis.