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Falsified Professional Credentials . Courtroom (Penn State Law 2009). Purpose of case study. Target audience: Professional training providers, Program Convenors, Heads of School, Discipline heads.

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Falsified professional credentials

Falsified Professional Credentials

Courtroom (Penn State Law 2009)

Purpose of case study
Purpose of case study

  • Target audience:Professional training providers, Program Convenors, Heads of School, Discipline heads.

  • Key issue:The potential for unqualified individuals to misrepresent themselves as qualified in professional contexts.

  • Purpose:To reduce the incidence of people falsely claiming professional credentials

  • Materials: relevant discipline professional entry standards; professional admission rules; university discipline program offerings.

Academic Integrity Standards Project 2010-2012

Our research
Our research

  • Survey of 15,304 students at 6 participating universities

    • 92.1% of all students, and 95.6% of postgraduate research students expressed agreement with the question, ‘Do you think academic integrity has relevance to your life or work experience outside the university?’

Academic Integrity Standards Project 2010-2012

The case bernard
The Case: Bernard

  • Bernard obtained a Bachelor of Arts

  • Enrolled as a graduate student to study law

  • Poor results, breaches of academic integrity

  • Bernard withdraws in third year to avoid suspension

  • While at his part-time job at a law firm Bernard makes a photocopy of his employer’s legal practicing certificate and changes the details so that it displays his own name.

  • Bernard sets up an office from home and promotes himself as a solicitor on Facebook.

Academic Integrity Standards Project 2010-2012

Falsified credentials
Falsified credentials

  • Posing as a qualified solicitor, Bernard’s ‘cases’ include:

    • i) Advising a friend’s mother on a wills matter

    • ii) Writing several letters for a friend to negotiate a neighbourhood dispute

    • iii) Writing a threatening letter, to a ‘client’s’ former spouse in which he threatened to apply for a ADVO (domestic violence restraining order)

    • iv) Appearing in the Local Court representing several paying clients for pleas in mitigation concerning criminal charges.

Academic Integrity Standards Project 2010-2012

The incident
The incident

  • Another solicitor observed Bernard’s lack of competence in the Local Court and discussed her concerns privately with the magistrate.

  • The magistrate then asked Bernard where he had studied law and where he had been admitted to practice.

  • Bernard named the law school where he had been enrolled for three years, and said that he had been admitted in the Local Court the previous year.

  • The magistrate then asks the court officer and attending police to place Bernard in custody and he is subsequently charged with fraud.

Academic Integrity Standards Project 2010-2012

Questions for discussion
Questions for discussion

1. How easy is it for students to obtain sufficient information from professional courses and to misrepresent themselves as qualified, competent and admitted to practice in a professional discipline?

2. Have large class numbers in professional programs destroyed the sense of professional community and allowed individuals to exploit their anonymity for personal advantage?

3.Should there be more accessible registers of professionals to help deter fraudulent misrepresentations and falsified credentials for personal gain?

4. Should professional schools publish annual graduation lists to help deter fraudulent claims of qualification?

Academic Integrity Standards Project 2010-2012

References and resources
References and resources

Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., East, J., Green, M., James, C., McGowan, U., Partridge, L., Walker, R. & Wallace, M. (2011). Academic Integrity Standards: A Preliminary Analysis of the Academic Integrity Policies at Australian Universities, Australian Universities Quality Forum, 29 June-1 July, Melbourne, Australia.

Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., Wallace, M., Walker, R., James, C., Green, M., East, J., McGowan, U. & Partridge, L. (2011). Core elements of exemplary academic integrity policy in Australian higher education, International Journal for Educational Integrity, Vol 7(2), pp. 3-12, available online: http://www.ojs.unisa.edu.au/index.php/IJEI/article/viewFile/759/574

Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., Wallace, M., Walker, R., McGowan, U., East, J., Green, M., Partridge, L., & James, C. (2012, under review). ‘Teach us how to do it properly!’ An Australian academic integrity student survey, paper submitted for review to Studies in Higher Education, 5 April 2012.

Penn State Law (2009).Courtroom, digital image, accessed on 29 August 2012, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelaw/4075233002/. This image is used with permission under Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0Creative Commons License.

Academic Integrity Standards Project 2010-2012

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Support for this project/activity has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License

Academic Integrity Standards Project 2010-2012