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New research highlights common misconceptions about academic integrity

Academic integrity should be discussed as an issue that impacts all students, rather than a specific demographic

November 28, 2016 — 

I was introduced to the topic of academic integrity while searching for a Master’s thesis project.

I didn’t know much about it and had never experienced any issues of misconduct as a student. I quickly learned that the participant group I wanted to focus on – international students – had a particular connection to this topic. More or less, international students in North America were, and continue to be, perceived as having greater issue with academic integrity than domestic students.

The media has even reported this perception with headlines like, “Why many international students get a failing grade in academic integrity” (Bradshaw & Baluja, 2011), and “Foreign students seen cheating more than domestic ones” (Jordan & Belkin, 2016).

So I set off gathering international undergraduate student perspectives on academic integrity and found that, unsurprisingly, international students are just as capable as domestic students at following the policies and procedures of academic integrity.

They are conscientious and hard-working, and they try their best to understand the rules and guidelines that have been communicated to them. They may have experienced a different educational background with practices that are unique to ours, but all of the students I spoke with had adapted to the rules and guidelines of a new educational environment.

I also found that cultural differences between various international undergraduate populations do not affect integrity. In fact, many elements of one’s culture reinforce integrity and moral behaviour, both on and off campus.

Lastly, I found that international undergraduate students believe that there is a problem among them. This perceived problem that international students are more likely to commit academic misconduct applies an unfair stereotype.

All of this serves as a reminder that students with varied cultural backgrounds are integral to the mission of the University to create and sustain a community of learning.

Academic integrity should be discussed as an issue that impacts all students, rather than a specific demographic. Let’s create a more positive outlook on academic integrity and the various educational backgrounds on campus – we’re all capable of behaving honestly in academics, regardless of cultural background.


Bradshaw, J. & Baluja, T. (2011, September 2). Why many international students get a failing grade in academic integrity. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from

Jordan, M. & Belkin, D. (2016, June 5). Foreign students seen cheating more than domestic ones. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from



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