The Newcastle University Plagiarism Scandal


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Case Analysis of The Newcastle University Plagiarism Scandal

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The Newcastle University Plagiarism Scandal

  1. 1. The Newcastle University Plagiarism Scandal SMU MBA Elective: Managing Reputation and its Risks Professor: Dr. Michael Netzley Sarah GOH | LEE Wan Ming | Robin Low
  2. 2. Main issues • Cover-up by the senior management despite whistle-blowing • Violation of Newcastle University's disciplined policies and its credibility compromised • Double standards: lowering of standards to pander to full fee-paying foreign students (cash cows) • The university’s original charter compromised • The more important issue at hand (beyond the reputation of Newcastle): the credibility of Australia’s tertiary education system, hence the early involvement of the Education Ministry
  3. 3. Newcastle University’s Constituencies & Their Attitudes Constituencies Attitude about Plagiarism Attitude about Newcastle Staff of Newcastle (academic and • They have more at stake as this • Outrage over the staff who are at non-academic) will tarnish their profession fault (“the black sheep”) • However, there will be some who • Loss of trust in Newcastle’s do not care as they would wish to management as the school policy is protect their cash cows or simply not being enforced do not wish to put in more work to • Deeply concerned as this will affect check for plagiarism their careers as the school will have • This may be a wake-up call to set a bad name thereafter the process right Student Body (including Alumni) & • There will be those who do not care • Outrage over students and the Parents about plagiarism as their sole school officials who are at fault objective is just to graduate • Loss of trust in Newcastle’s • The majority of the students, their management as the school policy is parents and the alumni will be not being enforced concerned about the reputation and prestige of the school if plagiarism is not clamped down?
  4. 4. Constituencies (cont’d) Other Australian Universities • Other Australian Universities who • The Australian universities and (including their students and alumni) hold the same practice would not their students/alumni would be & University Partners in other wish for others to rock the boat but upset about Newcastle’s behavior countries remain status quo as this would affect the overall • They would want to protect their reputation of the Australian cash cows as well education system • The good universities would like a • The University Partners would be revamp of the Australia education concerned but they have recourse system to improve its reputation to find other partners should the and increase credibility partnership with Newcastle fallout after the investigation Ministry of Education, Science & • Holds a firm stand on this to uphold • If the allegations proved to be true, Training (Education Ministry) the reputation of the Australian they would feel outraged over education system Newcastle’s behavior as it is a • They would require more breach of their charter as a accountability from the universities university ICAC • The issue is on breach of trust of • With the pending investigations, the school academics and they may be doubtful over the management (since many integrity of Newcastle’s universities are funded in part by management. the government) • They would require more accountability from the universities
  5. 5. Constituencies (cont’d) General Public • May hold diverse views • Some may feel outraged • Some may view it as insignificant • Others may just feel indifferent as they do not fully appreciate the value of intellectual property • Some may lose faith in the academics who are supposed to uphold integrity Media • They may view the issue as • Interest in the school is stirred up something of news value as this as they can create more news from involves greed in the public service the pending investigation – the conflict between upholding • They would want to interview the the charter of the university and different officials or students from protecting their cash cows Newcastle to find out about their • Attention is drawn to the lucrative school policy business of export education which makes up A$5.2 billion a year, growing at a year-on-year rate of 15%-20%
  6. 6. Organization: Newcastle University Newcastle University’s expectations on each constituency All constituencies • Affirm university’s position that it does not condone any form of plagiarism • Be reminded of and clear on its existing policy governing plagiarism Whichever way ICAC rules on its investigations, be advised that: • The university will accept the investigation findings • It will review its policy on plagiarism to see if the policy needs revision to be more well-defined and robust • It will establish a whistle-blowing policy allowing anyone to report a case of plagiarism or one that has been improperly handled directly to the chairperson of the academic discipline committee • Be reminded of the university’s strong academic standing, as well as its long and rich history • Be advised of its renewed commitment to stay true to its education and research charter • Be advised that it will take concrete action against any individual(s) found to have handled the plagiarism case improperly • To forgive it for any possible mishandling of the plagiarism case, depending on the ICAC investigation results
  7. 7. Organization (cont’d) Additional expectations of the Education Ministry • To audit the university’s internal systems put in place to detect and handle cases of plagiarism • To provide stewardship in enhancing and protecting the reputation of higher education in Australia: - Include academic integrity as part of the criteria in university rankings - Provide authoritative guidelines on the detection and handling of plagiarism - Penalize any serious infraction of guidelines by cutting future funding Additional expectations of the Media • To grant the university a fair hearing on the plagiarism case • To report objectively on the facts of the plagiarism case as revealed by the ICAC investigation and comment objectively on them • To respect the finality of the ICAC investigation and not approach any member of the university and its affiliates for any additional information • Not to paint the higher education industry in Australia in a negative light
  8. 8. Organization (cont’d) Newcastle’s resources Reputation and Academic Standing • The university should allude to its existing good reputation and academic standing in its response to its constituencies Time (unavailable) • The incident occurred in Jan 2003; remarking was discovered by Ian Firns a month later. The university's investigation started on 14 Mar; a complaint was formally lodged with ICAC in early Aug. Newcastle had wasted almost seven months in dealing with a seemingly small case of plagiarism without any satisfactory results. Time was no longer on their side when issuing a public statement to an extended group of stakeholders; the school needed to counter the dangling allegations made on air by Ian Firns and Brendan Nelson (Australian’s Education Minister)
  9. 9. Organization (cont’d) Newcastle’s reputation post-controversy • Newcastle has always had a good reputation as one of Australia’s top research universities • Its reputation has somewhat been compromised as a result of this plagiarism incident • However, we believe that it is still highly recoverable, especially since ICAC has not published the results of its investigation • The university needs to take advantage of the narrow opportunity between the airing of the Sunday program and release of the ICAC investigation results to respond to allegations of sidelining of this plagiarism case, position itself correctly and pre-empt the investigation results
  10. 10. Newcastle University's messages Primary spokesperson: Roger Holmes • Holmes’ seniority as vice-chancellor and President of the school mirrors the emphasis the university places on the issue Message strategy: Mortification, then ingratiation • Mortification: A problem-solving mechanism, with Newcastle being a part of a future solution. Creates acceptance of the lapse between disciplinary action and policies; regardless of the results of the ICAC investigation - The university has mechanisms in place for solving the plagiarism scandal and preventing a future case. - Newcastle will set up an academic discipline committee made up of the heads of the various schools within the university. This committee will handle all future efforts by the university to monitor, curb and handle cases of plagiarism. Brian English to head this committee and he is to liaise with the Ministry of Education on audit and other plagiarism matters, as well as adopt best practices • Ingratiation: Attempts to re-gain public approval and willingness to cooperate with ICAC investigation and Education Ministry
  11. 11. Messages (cont’d) Internal vs external stakeholders: Tailored messages for different parties involved • Internal stakeholders include academic (professors) and non-academic staff, local partners, as well as the student body - Academic staff: to be informed of the communication plan and the simplified key messages. To advise their students not to speak to the media but instead direct all media queries to Roger Holmes & team. Likewise, the academic staff to refrain from speaking to the external media and channel all media to Holmes & team - Non-academic staff and student body: to be assured that internal review process in motion and to direct all media queries to Holmes & team • External stakeholders include the media and general public etc. - Mortification, then ingratiation. The commitment from the highest level of management to work with authorities to review into the university policy, regardless official findings, in order to improve and set best practices
  12. 12. Messages (cont’d) Communications plan and timeline • Sunday program: Roger Holmes to be the key spokesperson representing Newcastle and to respond to comments by Brendan Nelson - Express regret that there had been inconsistencies in discipline and policy; assure that Newcastle had internal processes in place - Assure that local partners also operate within the confines of the university policy - 100% cooperation with ICAC and acknowledge accountability to the findings - Acknowledge the need to review and update the policy, adopt best practices with guidance from authorities or experts, eg. Education Ministry, regardless the results of ICAC investigation - Future whistle-blowers and similar cases to be treated with due attention and the formation of an academic discipline committee to handle them • Press conference and media release: To follow the interview on Sunday with Holmes as the primary spokesperson, English to attend the conference as well - Key messages as above - English to briefly discuss objectives of the internal academic discipline committee as well • Post-ICAC investigation: The platforms to be determined in the future, but regardless, Holmes and English to report on the progress on the internal committee and highlight improvements in the internal processes
  13. 13. Thank you by Sarah GOH | LEE Wan Ming | Robin Low