By Aisha al-Jiyyar
Kuwait (Al-Qabas)— Hundreds of students at the University of Kuwait are buying research papers from student service centers operating near the campus, journalist Aisha al-Jiyyar found, while university regulations don’t mention plagiarism.
Student service centers are expected to provide printing, copying and translation services for students, according to the terms of their license under Kuwait’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
A six-month investigation found that four out of 10 of these centers were selling research papers to students for sums ranging from $50 to $66 (15 to 20 Kuwaiti Dinars). In a poll of 222 students from five colleges at the university—where some 37,000 study—one-third admitted to buying papers.
Professors may have a hard time detecting plagiarized or purchased research papers, but several students al-Jiyyar interviewed said they found students turning in work not their own. Professors are left to deal with cheaters as they wish since there are no set guidelines about punishment for plagiarism.
Some interviewed professors changed the process for completing academic research in their classes in order to deter would-be plagiarists. Others used online services to verify students’ work. Al-Jiyyar contacted professors from six private universities in Kuwait who stated they use online services such as Turnitin and iThenticate to verify the originality of students’ work. The University of Kuwait, a public institution, does not use those services.
The Ministry of Commerce has tried to contain research paper sales for more than two decades. In 1996, 1999 and 2007, Kuwait’s Ministry of Commerce warned, fined and closed student service offices that sold papers to students.
The Director of Commercial Control at the Ministry, Nasser al-Mateeri, told al-Jiyyar that plainclothes monitors from the ministry visited such offices “on a daily basis” and that violators were fined and offices were sometimes closed.
Al-Jiyyar made repeated attempts to contact University President Dr. Hussein Al-Ansari about her findings, but up to the date of publication got no response.
This investigation was completed with the support of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) under editor Hamad Al-Othman. It was originally published in Arabic by Al-Qabas on Aug. 15.