The North Carolina Chapel Hill University has been under public scrutiny again after more details have leaked regarding its academic-fraud scandal, according to which, 384 students and alumni took fraudulent classes in the African Studies department. The scandal was examined by the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission (SACSC), the review panel revealed that unless the forty-six soon-to-be-graduating students enroll in the make-up classes offered, they risk missing graduation.
According to the team sent by SACSC, the African and Afro-American studies department was offering students —which in their majority were athletes — no-show classes and unauthorized grade changes. The numbers are revealing, from 2001 to 2006, a total of 1,433 independent enrollments in the African studies courses took place.
Apart from the African Department chairman Julius Nyang’oro being fired, the university is trying to make amends through meticulous PR work and by offering students a chance to attend other free courses to make their degrees whole again. UN Chapel Hill sources revealed that despite courses being available, actual participation is disappointing. As we speak, few have showed interest in taking these make-up courses and only one student this far has actually enrolled. In total, forty-six students are risking graduation if they don’t enroll.
A question of academic integrity
The academic-fraud scandal brings to the spotlight a recurrent issue that plagues higher education for decades now. While seemingly a matter of corruption, its underpinnings go much deeper; the conspicuous lack of rigorous academic performance evaluations is partly to blame. For instance, efficient intra-university screening which could include spot checks for lectures, identity verification processes and advanced exam proctoring could contribute in achieving a higher level of academic efficiency. Exam proctoring for instance offers a viable solution for monitoring students’ behavior without being invasive or disruptive of the test-taking process.
To preserve their reputation and render their graduates competitive in our knowledge-based economy, schools are searching for rigorous performance evaluation strategies, where both academics and students are regularly screened for doing what they’re supposed to, drive education forward. Degrees reflect the knowledge, skills, and expertise of students. Strict standards for courses and exam-taking increase the value of degrees. Such academic-fraud scandals risk raising suspicions and causing people to distrust higher education institutions— especially when the latter needs to take time consuming steps to make amends towards the right direction.
How would you feel if your classmate had the same degree and you knew they cheated on a test or in one of their courses? Do you think it makes your degree less valuable? Should students have to make up their work if it’s discovered the we’re some issues with the integrity of their student behavior? Leave us a somment and share your feedback.