Going Beyond a Day to Become a Voice

Topics: Blog, Spotlight

University of Wollongong in Dubai has been participating in the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating consistently since its inception more than three years ago.

Dr Zeenath Reza Khan, Assistant Professor and Head of Integrity in Academic and Beyond Research & Learning Forum at the university began researching in the area in 2005 and successfully completed a PhD thesis in 2014. When ICAI announced the first International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating, Dr Khan along with her cohort of student volunteers joined in and collectively spread the word on campus and had a great response to the “whiteboard declarations” (see Zeenath’s twitter feed for examples!). In fact, by the second year, the momentum had increased, with student clubs and faculty members showing strong interest in becoming part of the campaign.

So in 2017, the team organized a whole Week of Actions against Contract Cheating with some funding from the Asia Pacific Forum on Educational Integrity. The week saw student clubs organizing workshops to engage participants in understanding the psychology behind cheating, arguing impact of policies and ending with a colloquium of presentations by both faculty and students and a poster competition.

In 2018, the event grew to mammoth proportions, with the organizing team increasing to include Dr Sabiha Mumtaz, supported by the UOW-UOWD Global Challenges Academic Integrity Grant and going beyond contract cheating to celebrate a Week of Actions Against Academic Misconduct. With participation from other universities, students and faculty, the week included library awareness sessions, workshops on policies and the importance of an educative approach, research presentations by Education Program Leader and Research Associate Dean, and an enlightening panel discussion of students and faculty discussing and debating student attitude towards academic misconduct, including contract cheating. The campaigns took the concept of a day of action against contract cheating, growing in size and scope over the years to become a collective voice that highlights interest from the student body, both undergraduate and postgraduate, with students joining as part of organizing team or as participants. The impact of the campaigns has in fact been very substantial with documented cases of students and alumni alike now regularly speaking out against contract cheating services and advertisements targeting them.

About the Author
Dr Zeenath Reza Khan is an assistant professor at Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences and recently became head of the Integrity in Academia and Beyond Research & Learning Forum at the university with a multi-disciplinary nine-member committee that has come together to work hand-in-hand on research and campaigns across the campus and beyond on academic integrity and beyond. Zeenath is a leading expert in the MENA region on academic integrity Dr Khan completed her PhD on Academic Integrity in 2014, chaired the International Conference on Academic Integrity -Middle East Chapter in 2016 in collaboration with ICAI and is currently chairing the 2020 Plagairism Across Europe and Beyond Conference to be held in Dubai.