Counting beans in the degree factory

John Atkins, William Herfel


This paper examines how material conditions constrain the capacity to act with academic integrity, particularly in the context of severe resource limitations within Australian higher education. It describes the current situation in Australian universities illustrating this with statistics as well as the authors’ experiences. Drawing on the recent report on plagiarism policy and implementation at The University of Newcastle produced by the St. James Ethics Centre, the paper shows how policies and procedures can run aground due to resource scarcity. It also explores the breakdown of traditional academic culture and its impact on integrity, making reference to the University of Maryland Student Honor Code. Finally, the paper raises the question of what constitutes ethical action when resources become stretched to the breaking point.

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