For over half a century there have been concerns about increases in the occurrence of academic misconduct by higher education students and this is now claimed to have reached crisis proportions (e.g. Mostrous & Kenber, 2016a). This study explores the extent to which multi-national faculty judge the effectiveness of higher education institutions in dealing with such misconduct.
A survey of multi-national higher education faculty was conducted to explore the perceived barriers to the implementation of academic integrity processes. It asked faculty how likely some hypothetical scenarios of failures of such processes were to occur in the real world of higher education institutions.
63% of our participants perceived there to be institutional and/or faculty barriers to effectively dealing with academic misconduct. Mostly, they blamed the higher education model for this which, in the interests of mass education, has come to prioritise the need for institutions to focus more on their quantity of output as corporate business enterprises than on the integrity of their output as educators.
In discussing participants’ comments, about the relationship of faculty to their employing institutions, Schein and Scheins’ (2016) theory of three levels of organisational culture was used. Participants’ comments suggested that, at the deepest level of organisational culture i.e. basic underlying taken-for-granted assumptions about beliefs and values, inadequate integrity measures have tended to become normalised. Despite the often considerable, efforts of the institutions, organisational barriers were noted which mitigate against faculty behaving professionally i.e. from doing a ‘good job’ in respect of student academic misconduct. Some blame was also placed on faculty.
We argue that apparent institutional inability to effectively manage the integrity process, has potentially significant consequences for wider society. We discuss ways in which this situation might be improved including a recommendation that governments regulate this aspect of the corporate social responsibility of higher education institutions as they do other aspects, requiring that it be managed effectively.