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Too many leave integrity behind when traveling overseas for school

Cheating is a problem in American universities, but the problem is most severe with foreign students, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows. A review of a dozen large public universities found 5.1 reports of cheating per 100 foreign students, compared to one report per 100 domestic students.

This past year there were 586,208 undergraduate students from abroad at U.S. universities, the Journal reports. Of these, over 165,000 were from China. South Korea and Saudi Arabia kicked in 50,000 each, and India sent 23,500.

The WSJ report follows one done earlier this year by the Times of London, which found that nearly 50,000 foreign students were caught cheating at British universities over the past three years. The Times piece is behind a paywall but the University World News distilled its main points.

At Queen Mary University in London, three-quarters of those caught plagiarizing were from overseas, with one-third of those being from China. At Strattfordshire University, three-quarters of those caught cheating came from oversees, although they made up only 18 percent of the enrollment.

In addition to raw plagiarism, much of the problem in the U.K. and the U.S. stems from essay mills, which write essays for a fee.

"India is one of the key countries that is supplying writers and workers to help students with contract cheating," Thomas Lancaster, a professor at Birmingham City University in the U.K., told the International Business Times. "There is a high level of English proficiency in India and this is one of the areas that students look for when selecting a ghost writer."

If essay mills are centered in India, the offenders themselves, it seems, are mostly from China, and the Wall Street Journal quoted several students from China speculating on why:

"Lanqing Wang, a Georgia Institute of Technology electrical engineering student from Shanghai, who is distressed by the cheating he sees, said, 'In China, it’s OK to cheat as long as you’re not caught.’”

"Paidi Shi, vice president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at the University of California, San Diego, disagreed that it was all right to cheat in her home country but said, 'In China, our culture puts a lot of pressure on students. We are more likely to find a shortcut to get a good grade.’”

"Qingwen Fan, president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at the University of California, Davis, said some students in China get burned out by cramming in high school, and when they get to college 'they want to enjoy life. They are busy with social stuff and everything they missed before. They start to cheat. They didn’t put in the time but they want to pass the test. That is kind of a cultural thing.’”