Despite a growing body of evidence, the common causal factors of plagiarism among international students are still widely seen to be poor language skills or a lack of academic integrity on the part of the students. This research uses the experiences of a particular cohort of students to explore these assumptions. It investigates and compares the notion of academic integrity and the understanding of plagiarism of both Indian postgraduate students who are currently studying in Australia and students currently studying at Indian universities. Postgraduate international students from India have studied in English at an undergraduate level in India and have a clear understanding of academic integrity in their own context. However their undergraduate experience occurs in a culturally different context to that of the Australian university system and they face the challenge of learning new academic conventions. This paper argues that students coming from different educational cultures require proper and explicit induction into the principles and philosophy behind many western academic conventions as different conventions of scholarship in the Australian education system can create unique difficulties for them. To accuse international students in general of a lack of integrity because they plagiarise or to blame only their lack of language skills for plagiarising seems to be arguable. Rather, the impact of transition from a different university culture without explicit academic skills orientation and instruction needs to be addressed. The paper also points towards the paradox of punishment in western universities where international students have to prove their integrity and innocence regarding the ethical principles of a new and foreign culture.
Recommended CitationHanda, N. and Power, C., Land and Discover! A Case Study Investigating the Cultural Context of Plagiarism, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 2(3), 2005.