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 supposed to do printing, copying and translation for students, according to the terms of their license under Kuwait’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
However, over a six-month investigation, al-Jiyyar found that four out of 10 of these centers were selling research papers to students for sums ranging from US$50-66 (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 buying papers.
Professors may have a hard time detecting plagiarized or bought research papers, but several al-Jiyyar talked to said they had found students turning in work not their own. With no set guidelines about punishment for plagiarism, professors are left to deal with cheaters as they wish. Some professors interviewed had changed the process for completing academic research in their classes in order to deter would-be plagiarists.
In comparison, six private universities in Kuwait al-Jiyyar contacted said their professors 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.
Efforts by the Ministry of Commerce to contain papers sales have continued 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 the offices 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.