Student report exposes multi-layer university corruption

A new report has recommended tighter control and an overhaul of rules and procedures at Moroccan universities to deal with multi-layered corruption ranging from extortion and sexual harassment to misallocation of resources, unfair employment, manipulated student elections and the mismanagement of properties and finances.

Published by the Morocco-based Organisation of the Student Renaissance, a national association open to all university students in Morocco, the 17 February report entitled Financial and Administrative Corruption in Moroccan Universities indicates that female students suffer from extortion and sexual harassment by professors that usually goes unpunished.

"Students don't report such incidents and keep silent about it as they have grown accustomed to fear, or a conservative culture, or the lack of legal guarantees," the report states.

The report also indicates that the examination process for PhD and masters theses has become unclear and suffers from inconsistency, despite the presence of approved rules. Some examinations for doctoral theses are facilitated and accelerated for the purpose of gaining a position in a university while others are delayed for unknown reasons, it says.

Academic dishonesty

Several question marks have been raised about academic dishonesty and malpractices in the processes of theses examination and passing. "This might explain the escalation of scandals relating to… plagiarism and academic fraud in theses after the passing and awarding of the degree," the report notes.

Corruption in Moroccan universities also affects administration, the report says.

"There is a large ambiguity in the management of university properties and finances making this area fertile ground for corruption in universities in Morocco," the report states. For example, according to the report the National School of Applied Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine at the Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakesh have acquired equipment valued at MAD4 million (US$394,700) and MAD3 million respectively, which was not used.

"The absence of any information and a monitoring system for chemical use and repair of scientific equipment indicates the absence of university planning which opens the possibility that some items of the budget for higher education do not achieve their purposes," the report said.


Among the report’s recommendations are that public prosecutors investigate all charges of university corruption and arrange appropriate penalties and sanctions according to law.

Furthermore, the report suggests that internal and external monitoring of doctoral and masters programmes be improved and that students and civil society organisations be involved in the oversight of various governance processes related to university affairs, including public procurement, nutrition, grants, university housing and the awarding of masters and doctoral degrees.

The report also recommends that annual report rankings be implemented for universities according to their governance systems.

"Morocco's universities are no exception to North Africa's common corruption problems," Abd-El-Aal, a research professor at the National Research Center in Cairo in Egypt, told University World News.

According to Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index, two out of the 10 most corrupt countries in the world are from the North African region: Libya and Sudan, each with a score of 14 (with 0 indicating 'highly corrupt' and 100 being 'very clean'). Morocco scored 37 on the index. The least corrupt was Denmark with a score of 90.

Abd-El-Aal called for the establishment of a North African coalition for corruption-free universities.

"This coalition must also develop a university integrity ranking based on assessment categories including transparency and free availability of information, academic integrity, governance quality and recruitment, and financial management," Abd-El-Aal said.