Rhiannon Down’s revelations (Unis’ get ‘F’ for fail on contract cheating, ‘The Australian’ 3/10) filled me with alarm. Her story took me back to the 1970’s/80’s through to 2000, during my time as an external and internal university student. There was quality academic rigour and expectation placed on students and for some reason any cheating was quickly identified. Fast forward and it seems anything goes, with universities excusing blatant cheating on the grounds of discernment impossibility.

Beyond tertiary studentship I became a part time lecturer and marker at the Charles Darwin University. It seemed to me that if one got to know students, then it was more than possible to pick up on the presentation of untoward work. Seemingly that is no longer the case – or universities are simply turning a blind eye in order to avoid offending students paying handsomely for their education.

Two changes would go a long way to fixing the problem. Markers should be given sufficient time to mark assignments. In my case, I was paid for 20 minutes to mark each paper, meaning I gave many hours voluntarily in order to properly evaluate work. A second change might be a return to examinations, rather than maintaining the continuous assessment approach to tertiary learning. Progress by continuous assessment lends itself to the cheating Down’s describes.

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