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mardi, 13 mai 2008

Bad marks

En lisant cet article*, au demeurant fort instructif et pas du tout surprenant**, je m'interroge sur la construction syntaxique et la cohérence d'une phrase :

They found plagiarism was twice as common in less selective universities than smaller, more popular ones. 


La journaliste, Jessica Shepherd, a dû avoir une bonne note quand elle a passé ses examens...



* En cas de "lien mort", voir article copié-collé à la fin de ce billet. 

** De ce côté-ci de la Manche, la Licence n'a déjà plus la moindre valeur, quelle que soit l'université, car les équipes pédagogiques sont contraintes de brader les diplômes.



Universities accused of awarding undeserved marks

Jessica Shepherd. The Guardian. Tuesday June 17, 2008

Universities award undergraduates marks they do not deserve in final year exams and ignore cheating, a senior higher education figure said today.

Prof Geoffrey Alderman, who used to be in charge of safeguarding standards at Britain's largest university, the University of London, blamed grade inflation on "a league table culture".

He told The Independent newspaper that lecturers were under pressure to "mark positively" to secure a good position in the tables.

"The more firsts and upper seconds a university awards, the higher a ranking is likely to be," he said.

"So each university looks closely at the grading criteria used by its league table rivals and - if they are found to be using more lenient grading schemes - the argument is put about that 'peer' institutions must do the same."

Alderman, who was also head of quality at Middlesex University, said the upholding of academic standards had been "replaced by a grotesque bidding game, in which standards are inevitably sacrificed on the altar of public image".

He said universities were particularly "generous" when they marked non-European Union students, who pay far more in fees.

"Their fees are now a lucrative and essential source of much-needed revenue," he said. "I have heard it seriously argued that international students who plagiarise should be treated more leniently than British students because of 'differential cultural norms'. It is indeed rare, nowadays, for habitual plagiarists to be expelled from their universities."

Alderman said a professor of environmental archaeology at Bournemouth University, Paul Buckland, had recently resigned in disgust when he was told to pass 13 students he had failed.

"It is now apparently possible for Liverpool University students to be awarded first-class honours without having actually achieved a first-class mark in any individual component of their degrees," Alderman said.

Liverpool University denies this.

Alderman's comments, which he will repeat tonight at a lecture at the University of Buckingham, are backed up by research on grades and plagiarism.

The latest statistics show the number of students awarded firsts - the top mark - has risen by more than 100% over the past decade, from 16,708 to 36,645.

In the same period, the undergraduate population has gone up by more than 40%.

Only Cambridge University is thought to have reduced the proportion of firsts and 2:1s in the past decade.

Research published this month by the Higher Education Academy and the Joint Information Systems Committee found that in one year there were 9,229 recorded cases of plagiarism, but that just 143 students were expelled.

They found plagiarism was twice as common in less selective universities than smaller, more popular ones.

Alderman, however, said universities were not the only ones to blame. Students were more interested in "regurgitating knowledge" than learning in depth about their subject, he said.

Prof Rick Trainor, president of Universities UK, said: "The UK model for assuring quality and standards in higher education is sound and well-established. It is also well respected internationally and has informed and influenced parallel developments worldwide. "All courses are subject to regular monitoring and review by universities, including through the external examiner system. Universities' processes and mechanisms are, in turn, subject to additional external scrutiny by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education which is independent of the government. These controls apply to all students whether from the UK or abroad. "In addition, all institutions have comprehensive policies relating to plagiarism and will take disciplinary action against students caught submitting work that is not their own. Many universities are already using advanced anti-plagiarism software to make sure that this is enforced."


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