Effects of Academic Dishonesty in Higher Education


Academic dishonesty has adverse effects to students, teachers, individual schools, and the educational system that is in place. Higher education is today a prerequisite since almost everybody now has an undergraduate degree and for you to acquire a well paying job, you need one. Unfortunately, many universities and colleges are suffering the results of academic dishonesty that is leading to the failure by the institutions to offer the quality of education that they intend to offer. Most of the students have been reported to cheat due to the high competition in the institutions and the need for a good grade so as to position yourself at a better position in the job market. Research done has shown that the rate of academic dishonesty is growing with the growing need for higher education and over fifty percent of the students questioned have admitted having cheated in one form or the other. What the students should note is that academic dishonesty is both illegal and unethical.

Forms of Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty falls under nay categories including cheating where a student uses some unauthorised materials in taking some work which could be an assignment, a test, or an examination. The other form is fabrication where the student fakes some data so as to make it fit in an experiment. This is very common in sciences where the students perform experiments and are expected to come up with some data that will be used later to make some conclusion. Another common academic dishonesty behaviour is plagiarism where the students uses another persons work as if it was his or her own work and does not make any acknowledgements. Another case is sabotage where a student prevents other students from taking their work by his or her misconduct may be by disrupting the experiments of these students or by plucking a page from a book in the library so that other students do not access same page. There are other forms of academic cheating like accelerating dishonesty like when you allow a student to copy from books, memorize answers to questions, etc., deception, etc (Karen, 2007: p.52).

Effects of Academic Dishonesty in Higher Education

Effects of Academic Dishonesty to the Student

Academic dishonesty affects students more than any other individual. For a student who has ever lied in the examination and has been out to justify his or her reason for cheating in the examination, this student is more likely to engage in dishonest actions later in life. The cheating in later life must not only involve cheating in examinations but also in the general life. In fact, research done show that those students who have engaged in cheating in their higher education have been found with cases of theft and fraud in their workplace when they secure a job. Those who have had theft cases in schools are even more likely to engage in fraud and theft than those who have not engaged in teaching (Bernard, 2002: p.5).

As a matter of fact, students go to college so as to acquire knowledge that they can apply in their workplace. Whatever that is reflected in the transcript is the same that the individual should have knowledge and skills. In hiring employees, most companies use the grades that are given on the transcripts. The employers do believe that the employees that they have hired will perform as per the specifications in the transcripts. The worst happens when these students are given some roles to perform in the companies and they cannot do anything. The management starts doubting their competence and the end result could be loosing their job. In addition, when a company employs student from a certain institution and these students prove to be incompetent, the company may not consider students from that college in other vacancies that may arise. This is a disadvantage to those who do not cheat in their examination because they are generalised together with those who cheat in the examination (Bernard, 2002: p.6).

Different institutions of higher learning have different rules regarding students who are caught cheating in the examination. Rules range from suspension to complete discontinuation. In some institutions, students caught with light cases of cheating are suspended from the schools for sometime which may even go to the extent of three years. This is wastage of time for the student and the student may end up being frustrated at the end of it all. Other cases may force the institution to force the student to repeat a year for a case of academic misconduct. The worst case happens to the student who is discontinued for having had an academic misconduct. This student regardless of the year of study is sent out of the institution with nothing to show for all the time spent in college. Most of these students who are discontinued in colleges end up in frustrations and engage in bad behaviours which are not acceptable even in the community. For those students who are suspended for sometime and are then called back and those who repeat the years, most institutions o higher learning offer the least performance to the student regardless of the performance after they come back to the college. This is very unfortunate for

Effects of Academic Dishonesty in Higher Education

the students especially at a moment when the job market is very competitive and only those who have performed well get the available opportunities (Bernard, 2002: p.7).

Effects of Academic Dishonesty to the Teachers

The teacher is not left out when students engage in academic dishonesty. The research that has been done have revealed that lecturers underproduce knowledge if their students are reported of having cheated. This denies the lecturer the right to offer the knowledge that he or she has to the students. Within the faculties, lecturers feel distressed by cases of academic dishonest in their faculties because the students who cheat pas a message that they haven’t been taught and that’s why they have to rely on some other means so as pass in the exams. This is especially common if cases of academic misconduct are common in a faculty. Again, lecturers go through the worst experiences in dealing with a student who have cheated in academics. Most of the teachers are parents and are aware of the torture that some of the punishments that the students are given go through. In fact, research done has shown that most lecturers agree with the statement that dealing with a student that has cheated in the academics is the worst case they have met (Gerald, 2007: p.1).

Effects of Academic Dishonesty on the Colleges

Academic dishonesty has an adverse effect on colleges especially because they negatively affect the reputation of the college. When the public is aware that an institution is a victim of academic dishonesty cases, students will not be willing to be associated with such an institution. The institution will therefore end up losing the students who keep it moving. Potential donors will also fail to support the institutions for the same vice. No one would like to be associated with cheating cases and therefore, even the potential donors would like to offer their money to institutions that will spend the money fairly and genuinely (Eric, 2003: p1).

The potential employers will also fail to consider students from institutions with academic dishonest cases for any job opportunities. This is because the institution is aware that the

Effects of Academic Dishonesty in Higher Education

students are not competent in the training and therefore might end up messing the company. This is quite a disadvantage to the genuine students from such institutions since the company will fail to consider them for cases committed by other students. Unfortunately none of the two is to blame since the company itself cannot tell the genuine student who doesn’t lie and the student most probably never instructed the other students to cheat (Bernard, 2002: p.6).

Academic misconduct destroys the mission of education where the student is supposed to receive information from an expert and understand that information without having to cram that information. In addition, the honest students who are willing to acquire the knowledge genuinely are affected by the vice. This is especially in a case where the honest student sees those who cheat in exams going away with it and therefore undermining their hard work (Bernard, 2002: p.6). This is quite frustrating to an individual student who worked very hard to earn his or her grade.


Academic misconduct can be seen as a case where a student engages in an illegal and unethical behaviour and cheats so as to boost his or her performance. Academic misconduct has become a common behaviour in institutions of high learning at a time when high education is a requirement for any individual who would like to secure a better place for himself or herself. Academic dishonesty comes in various forms and some of them include: cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, sabotage, deception, etc. Academic dishonesty greatly affects students because they are the major victims of the vice and at the same time major beneficiaries of education. Students who cheat on colleges are more likely to engage in dishonest actions in the future even when acquire jobs. These students are also likely to make mistakes in their workplace since they do not have the necessary skills that are required for a genuine student. The rules that the students who engage in academic dishonesty are exposed to are very severe and the students who get these penalties go through the hardest life in their lives. Being discontinued from an institution of high learning means a lot and a student who undergoes through this torture is more likely to engage in other bad behaviours in the society. The teachers are not left out when academic dishonesty is a case in their institutions. These teachers are distressed and they feel that the students are undermining their efforts. The teachers also experience very difficult times in dealing with a case of academic dishonesty especially when they know the effect that the penalties will have on the affected students. Academic institutions are also affected by cases of academic dishonesty in that they lose potential donors, potential employers to their students, and even students since no one would like to be associated with the vice.

Effects of Academic Dishonesty in Higher Education

Academic dishonesty should therefore be discouraged in colleges so as to give education its true meaning.


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Eric, G. L. (2003). Electronic Journal of Sociology. Collegiate Academic Dishonesty Revisited. Retrieved on 10-Oct-09 from http://www.sociology.org/content/vol7.4/lambert_etal.html

Gerald, F. H. (2007). Academic Integrity: Fostering a Culture of Academic Honesty. Retrieved on 10-Oct-09 from http://www.rantingcanuck.com/?p=33

Karen, C. B. (2007). To Be Honest: Championing Academic Integrity in Community Colleges.

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