Plagiarism warning for private colleges

Many private colleges are failing to take action to catch cheating by students, according to a Quality Assurance Agency review.

August 12, 2013

While the vast majority of the 209 private higher education institutions – 86 per cent – inspected by the higher education watchdog in 2012 achieved a positive review, issues around assessment and plagiarism were frequently raised.

The watchdog issued a total of 92 recommendations regarding assessment methods and plagiarism, says the report, titled Educational Oversight: One Year On, published on 9 August.

In some cases, colleges were not using plagiarism detection software that scans work to identify passages copied from published works or other student essays.

However, Anthony McClaran, the chief executive of the QAA, said standards in the private higher education sector were high.

“We took on the job of reviewing private colleges against a backdrop of varying public perceptions about their status and motivation, and calls for a level playing field for all institutions,” he said.

“We found that most colleges are doing a good job. They care about their students and provide excellent support, both academic and pastoral.”

The introduction of QAA educational oversight reviews - which were brought in to help the government verify colleges seeking visa licences - would help raise standards, he said.

“They have taken very seriously the investment they have made in QAA review, determined to benefit from the process and to take the opportunity to challenge and re-shape their practices.”

Overall, 850 recommendations were made by reviewers, of which 23 were classed as “essential”.

Seventy-four per cent of reviews for educational oversight were for providers of business management and finance programmes, while 78 per cent were for London-based institutions.

“From January 2014, we will start to review private colleges going through educational oversight review using the same method we use for universities and further education colleges, bringing them a step closer in quality assurance terms to a level playing field,” added Mr McClaran.

jack.grove@tsleducation.com

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