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You can't copy thinking

How some Cambodian universities are making cheating impossible

What is the best way to guarantee that you get good grades? If you are reading this magazine, you know the answer is hard work, but for too many of the country’s student the answer is cheating.

Although a culture of cheating is more pervasive in high school than it is at the country’s universities, many students bring their habit of cheating with them when they make the transition to college.

Cheating at university not only makes students’ higher education worthless, it reflects poorly on professors and administrators who can’t control their classes, and it is frustrating for students who are studying hard for tests and exams.

Rather than accept cheating as an unavoidable occurrence, many universities in the Kingdom are working to eliminate cheating from their classes altogether.

Ban Thero, the vice-chancellor at Cambodian Mekong University, said cheating happened regardless of how hard teachers tried to stop it, but that it can be cut down.

“Everywhere is the same. It’s not only Cambodian students who try to cheat. If there is chance to cheat, they will cheat,” said Ban Thero.

“At examinations at CMU, we don’t allow students to use telephones or other tools that can store information during the exam, and we don’t allow students to borrow pens or pencils from each other.”

The Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL) has long been known among students as one of the most strict universities when it comes to examinations, which helps explain why their graduates speak their chosen language with such fluency.

Khan Bophan, the bachelor’s programmes coordinator at IFL, said Cambodian students graduating from high school had a habit of cheating during exams, so IFL made sure that these habits are broken before they enter the university by making the students pass a closely supervised entrance exam before the school year begins.

After that, if you can’t speak, read and write the language, you can’t pass the classes and students soon realise that cheating is no help.

“Students are under close supervision from two examiners. No paper is allowed on the desk. There is a wide space between each student. They are not allowed to pick up a call. They are not allowed out of the room. These are the main rules to ensure that there is no cheating at IFL,” said Khan Bophan. “We also shuffle teachers around, which means that people who teach a particular class do not check that class.”

According to a formal letter sent to all students at IFL, there are strict penalties for students caught cheating. The first time cheating results in a 20 percent deduction, second is 50 percent and the third time gets a 100 percent deduction.

When asked whether the strict rules, which may result in lower GPAs, will make it harder for student to get a job upon graduation, Khan Bophan said this should not be a concern, since transcripts alone do not get you a job. You have to pass multiple interviews, as well, and that is where students who have had to work for their grades will prevail.



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