Plagiarism – Ministry criticises lenient university heads
The instruction, according to media analyst Kheira Laarousi, raises the possibility of past abuses which may have been overlooked by vice-chancellors, including the inappropriate appointment of individuals to examinations and theses adjudication boards.
The letter constitutes an unprecedented move against a scourge that academics suggest is becoming “common practice” in universities.
“The situation is really serious,” said Professor Moussa Mehdi from the faculty of politics and international relations at the University of Algiers.
“Plagiarism is becoming common practice and even banal since some presidents of universities are now involved and are encouraging it.
“The reaction from the higher education ministerial department comes too late given the moral and ethical harm done to science, education and knowledge and ultimately to the society,” he said.
The fight against plagiarism is being weakened by the fact that academic leaders are seen to be complicit in the problem, according to Salah Toumi, a student in the faculty of information and communication at the University of Algiers.
“Plagiarism and scientific theft alike are, after all, ethical issues and they remain acts of immorality and crime," said Toumi. “How can we monitor all these papers, theses and dissertations if honesty, scientific integrity and values are completely ignored by those supposed to represent the elite and future leaders of society?”
The phenomenon was giving universities a bad name and needed to stop, he said.
“The image of universities in the eyes of society is negative. The higher education ministry must react quickly and harshly to put an end to this haemorrhage,” he said.
According to Professor Hamid Cheniti, president of the University of Algiers 1, many cases relating to the annulment of theses and the exclusion of students are reported in the press. “Masters and doctoral students were excluded and their theses annulled because of plagiarism… These cases could be brought to the courts to serve as a lesson to others,” he said.
Cheniti said other measures that could be taken by the ministry to fight plagiarism include the establishment of university and research databases listing academic papers, reports and theses produced by students and staff.
“For the academic staff a separate digital database containing names, specialisation, and areas of academic interests would additionally help others seeking to benefit from their experience as experts,” he said.
Professor Othmane Lakhlef, dean of the faculty of economics at the University of Algiers III, said the introduction of better computer facilities and anti-plagiarism programs would help to curb the practice.
For Hachmi Khirani from Ennahar TV, the problem required the education of society as a whole through “democratisation, social justice and press freedom”.