The study of 5300 graduate students in the United States and Canada found that 56 per cent of graduate business students admitted to cheating in the past year, with many saying they cheated because they believed it was an accepted practice in business.

Following business students, 54 per cent of graduate engineering students admitted to cheating, as did 50 per cent of physical science students, 49 per cent of medical and health-care students, 45 per cent of law students, 43 per cent of liberal arts students and 39 per cent of social science and humanities students.

“Students have reached the point where they’re making their own rules,” said lead author Donald McCabe, professor of management and global business at New Jersey’s Rutgers University. “They’ll challenge rules that professors have made, because they think they’re stupid, basically, or inappropriate.”

McCabe said it’s likely that more students cheat than admit to it.

The study, published in the September issue of the Academy of Management Learning and Education, defined cheating as including copying the work of other students, plagiarising and bringing prohibited notes into exams.

McCabe said that in their survey comments, business school students described cheating as a necessary measure and the sort of practice they’d likely need to succeed in the professional world.

“The typical comment is that what’s important is getting the job done. How you get it done is less important,” McCabe said. “You’ll have business students saying all I’m doing is emulating the behaviour I’ll need when I get out in the real world.”




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