Academic Honesty in Multi-cultural Environments

Author: Óscar Hidalgo-Redondo, MPhil

Position: Chair of International and Economic Relations

With the summer finishing and the beginning of classes so close, the academic community prepares for the challenges of a new academic year.

The University of New York in Prague will be receiving students from over fifty countries and this is one the aspects that makes it very interesting to teach in this institution. However, despite the many virtues of multi-cultural environments, there are some difficulties that are related to the international character of education in our university.

One of them is the question of academic honesty. When receiving students from so many countries and academic traditions, it is very important that these new students become familiar with the standards of academic appropriateness in an institution of higher education such as UNYP.

During orientation week, all students receive a copy of our university’s honor code that has to be read, signed and then returned. In addition to that, all freshmen take the courses “Introduction to University Studies” and “English Composition I” in which the question of academic honesty, citation styles and the use of academic references are covered in depth.

Unfortunately, this is not enough and every academic year there are some students who ignore the instructions and warnings of their instructors and produce work that does not comply with the standards set by our institution. UNYP faculty members have access to powerful software that assists instructors in detecting plagiarism, even in  cases where the original sources are written in a different language than English. That facilitates enormously our work, reducing the time that it takes us to gather the evidence that will be used in our reports, should suspected plagiarism take place. The next stage of the process is to bring the case in front of the Academic Council, which will recommend the measures to be taken according to University policies. The university also keeps a record of offenders and the students who disregard our norms regarding academic honesty are dismissed from our institution after their third violation of the student honor code.

It is crucial that students understand what constitutes good academic practice, thus every new academic year we work very hard to explain  it to our new cohorts and to teach them to abide by academic rules. It is also very rewarding to see how students are able to leave behind old practices and learn the rules that help them to grow as scholars. It is hard work, but work that is really worthy since it is the basis for academic excellence.

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