Results of corruption

March 29, 2012

Your report on a global study of academic salaries ("You won't get rich (but you might get a free turkey)", 22 March) notes that academic moonlighting is rife in low-paid countries. The reality is much worse. In many of the poorer post-communist nations, university teachers are so badly paid (or not paid at all) that they augment their income by extorting large sums of money from students for examination passes - as much as £290 per exam in countries where the average monthly salary may be only £170.

The practice is particularly worrying in relation to subjects such as medicine or engineering, where peoples' lives depend upon graduates who are appropriately qualified, rather than those awarded degrees simply because they are able to pay for it.

In countries where there is systemic corruption, everyone knows what is going on but no one speaks out; even after students have graduated, they dare not expose such practices for fear of losing their qualifications, so evidence is hard to obtain. Nonetheless, it is surely incumbent upon international validating bodies, or the administrators of the Bologna Accord, to investigate criminal practices of this nature as well as working to ensure that all academics are properly paid so that such practices cease to be necessary.

Nicholas Till, School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex

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