Posted by & filed under education, exam2012A.

Description: What do you get when you combine Indian technical wizardry with a desperate shortage of spots in higher education? Some really fancy exam cheating.


Date: Jan 12, 2012

The police say two of the men – recent MBA grads – pretended to be candidates and went in to write the exam with Android cellphones strapped to their forearms, hidden beneath their shirt cuffs. They used the cameras in the phones to scan the exam questions through holes in their coats, and images of the pages were sent automatically and wirelessly to an email address.

In a bedroom a few blocks away, a recent computer science graduate downloaded the images and printed out the exam paper. He handed it over to the scam kingpin, a second-year medical student, who sat surrounded by textbooks and some friends, and solved the problems.  READ REST OF STORY

Questions for discussion:

  1. What are the motivations for this epidemic of high tech cheating?

2.  What are the soloutions for this epidemic of high tech cheating?

25 Responses to “Desperate for higher education, Indian students turn to high-tech cheating”

  1. Brittney Rainforth

    This does not surprise me. The amount of pressure that students are under to not only do well, but also to be at the top of their class is immense. From the sounds of it, the pressure seems to be 10x that of Canadian students. If students have the ability to cheat in order to lower that pressure, they will.

  2. Laura

    The motivations for this epidemic of high tech cheating appears to be the desire for a higher education which unfortunately is not available in a large enough quantity to provide for all those individuals who wish to obtain it. The scarcity of positions within medical school in India, combined with the governments disinclination to open education to the private sector, and inability or unwillingness to open enough public schools to house all of the potential students, have essentially driven people to extreme lengths to ensure they are able to study in one of the coveted 4000 spots. The obvious solution for this particular case of high tech cheating would be to expand the number of students that are able to get into medical school in Indian annually. Alternately, students could be required to walk through metal detectors like in an airport before writing exams, though this would not eliminate the possibility of bribery for the individuals doing the scans. Additionally, there could be some sort of reward for students who turn in others that are cheating. Essentially, cheating will occur, especially in entrance exams and the like, until the incentives to not cheat are greater than the incentives to cheat.

  3. Paige

    the motives are evident; the social and economic pressure to access higher education paired with a low enrollment place students in an awkward position. it does not seem entirely unlikely that i would not cheat under similar circumstances. the solution for this problem is not really for me to say. privatizing universities is not without its issues and expecting the government to establish scores of universities in the short or even medium term is unrealistic and oversimplified. so, while the indian government solves this problem by increasing its higher education infrastructure, i would suggest that these scores of students explore universities in other countries. if they have the money to pay for this tomfoolery, presumably they have the funds to study abroad.

  4. Lacey Dodds

    The motive behind the epidemic of high tech cheating appears to be the desire to acquire a post graduate education. Because there are no private universities, it does not seem to matter how much money your family has, what matters is how intelligent you are. This creates the problem of extreme competition to do the best of entrance exams in order to secure a spot in post graduate school. In Indian it is especially important to gain a higher education because education is something that is highly valued in that culture–as can be demostrated by indian youth committing suicided due to entrance rejection. There is no one single solution to this epidemic because ultimately cheating is always going to occur, whether it be in India or North America. If India was able to open more private schools then the competition may decrease a little because those that have more money than brains could buy their way into private school, however, if these students have that much money they should be able to afford to study abroad. Another solution could be to increase security and screening in order to be able to write these exams, however, if these people can afford to pay off the security, that defeats the purpose. Increase in severity of punishment when cought cheating could also help reduce the number of people involved in cheating.

  5. Lesley

    It seems that students are under too much pressure to qualify for the scarce positions within the medical field in India. If there are students spending their entire life savings in coaching and spending all of their time studying just to qualify there is obviously something wrong with the education system. The fact that many are committing suicide over their failure to qualify for med school shows the amount of pressure being placed on these students shoulders and that perhaps cheating may be, to some, worth it. It almost sounds like cheat or die. Cheat and pass, or fail the testing and feel low enough to commit suicide. I’m sure everyone would feel cheating is the best answer.

  6. Jay Retzlaff

    The motivations for this high tech cheating is that there is so many students competing for only a scarce number of spots. It says that there was 70,000 students writing this medical entry exam with only 4000 spots. The stress is high for these students who want to get a higher education in a place where it is hard to achieve. I think that there is a couple of solutions that could help stop the cheating on this exam. One could be getting people to empty there pockets, get patted down, etc. I don’t think that solution would prevent much cheating though because people would still find ways to sneak things in. The other solution would be to try and open more spots in this county or try and get transfer opportunities for students. With more spots/options may cut down the stress and cheating.

  7. Carlin

    The motivation part of this question is easy to answer. Students resort to high tech cheating because of the tremendous expectation to do well on this test combined with their lack of self-confidence in their own abilities (or a lack of preparation). Specifically in India, there is tremendous pressure placed on young men and women by their parents to go into a highly prestigous professional job and become something like a doctor or a lawyer. So therefore those students who aren’t as successful given the tremendous amount of work and effort needed may feel unable to face their families and will feel like utter failures at life unless they ace that exam. Hence, some will cheat.

    There are two solutions to this problem. One is immediate and practical and the other is getting at the core of the issue, but would definately be harder to change. The first solution would be more strict anti-cheating policies and measures, such as giving students who come in to write the exam a “pat down” to check if they are carrying any concealed devices that could be used for cheating. That is practical and certainly could be done. The other facet of this issue involves some element of cultural change or evolution: Indian parents need to stop placing such ridiculous expectations on their kids, because that is what creates this problem in the first place. If Indian young men and women are given the impression by their parents that they are not failures at life in general if they don’t pass this test, there would be less motivation to cheat, and perhaps more self-motivation to actually do the work for themselves, rather than to impress the family.

  8. Ford

    This high tech cheating to me is not very surprising. Students are put under mass amounts of pressure when it comes to exam time. Especially when the exams are as big as these ones and the amount of money that is put up in order to be able to write these exams is so large. It is also not very surprising because with the amount of technology that we are exposed to and can acquire very easily makes this kind of cheating much easier than ever before. The motivations behind this kind of cheating are exactly that. We have the technology to do it so why not. If it can help me pass this extreme exam and prevent me from losing thousands upon thousands of dollars, possibly not even my money but my parents savings, why not. Another motivation is explained in the article that lots of these people don’t want to disappoint their families and would rather die than face them in failure. Pressure can cause people to do crazy things and if this means cheat to win why not.

  9. Paige C

    The motivation of this high-tech cheating seems to be the desire of obtaining acceptance to a postgraduate medical school. Obviously the pressure is very high when there are 70,000 students writing the exam and only 4,000 are accepted. The article states that there is an immense shortage of spots in India for higher education, about 1500 universities short, and that the government is reluctant to open the field to the private sector. Competition is fierce and student’s levels of stress are very high. The comedy ‘Munnabhai M.B.B.S’ may have given these students the idea to try and cheat their way into med school, but regardless cheating is not a good way to succeed. Especially going into post grad medical school it is probably valuable to actually understand the information and/or how to apply it.
    It is hard to prevent the epidemic of cheating when competition is fierce and students are pressured, but the amount of cheating may decrease if India opens more schools to cater to the people who actually want to be there. Medical school is very hard to get into and competitive no matter where you are, if students are looking into med they should know this and actually apply themselves and not cheat their way through. Another way to decrease cheating may be by increasing security in the schools, candidates said there was no search done and that the guards could be bribed. By hiring a honest accountable guard to search the candidates, this cheating epidemic may decrease.

  10. M

    It is pretty clear why people in India would be motivated to cheat on their entrance exams; there are many reasons. When the article speaks of how many people commit suicide after writing the exam because they feel they have disgraced their families? Clearly there is such a high standard that has been set people feel it is nearly impossible to reach that standard and get pushed to cheat as a substitute for the possibility of not getting in and disgracing their families. And when there are only 4000 spots for the 70 000 candidates this is such a small amount of people who actually make no wonder people look to cheat. The problem of high cheating needs to be solved by them having a watch over these people that are possibly cheating to make sure it is not happening obviously. But to also try and get rid of the problem of students needing to cheat. The article talks about how the government even realizes and notices that India is short over 1000 universities and yet they are reluctant to open more or let the private sector open more. This is a root problem as to why the competition is so high and having this pressure be somewhat relieved could result in cheating not even being an issue.

  11. Paige Magnussen

    The motives behind this high tech cheating are clearly to obtain a post graduate education. Due to the fact that there are only public school systems, and very limited amount of spots for a graduate education, it has increased the competition among students to get into these schools. Clearly the students are feeling too much pressure if they are resorting to such extreme measures to cheat, spending so much money on coaching or in this case cheating, and especially if students are taking their own lives if they don’t make it into the school. There is not one clear way to solve this problem. In any walk of life you will find people that will try to cut corners by cheating but the school can increase security. Forcing all students to empty their pockets, leave their cell phones at home or with the teacher administering the test. Also by allowing no technology like i-pods in the test so there is no excuse for ear phones. The government needs to look into the amount of pressure that students are under and consider building more universities to educate more of their youth. One option for students with limited spots for a post graduate education is to attend school is other countries. Perhaps the pressure will be lower and they will be able to take away international aspects of education.

  12. Tim Anderson

    Motivation: people want paying jobs. However, in a country of more than a billion people jobs are scarce to begin with; more so with higher-paying jobs. A better job means higher status. There are a lot of perks that come with higher status.
    In India there is a government-enforced quota for educated people; not so in Canada. Obviously there are far too many people challenging for those positions. Such are the challenges that come with such a huge population.
    Solution: change the way testing is done. Use technology to prevent people from using technology to cheat. However, people will continue to find ways to ‘cheat’ to get what they want.

  13. Ashley O'Donnell

    The motivation for this high tech cheating is the incredible pressure that is placed on these students in the Indian post secondary environment. There are eighteen times more students than there are spots to fill. While cheating may be a problem with Canadian students this article displays how Indian education is far more competitive and cut throat than that of Canadian students because India lacks the number of institutes than can provide a meaningful education. It is obvious that India is not equipped to handle the number of students wishing to get a education to get a high paying job.
    India’s government needs to take immediate action to help accommodate the number of students wishing to attend school and succeed. While they are reluctant to allow private organizations to build universities it may provide opportunities for students to get the knowledge they need to succeed at said companies paying for education. This concept can also have benefits to the Indian economy as a whole. If the Indian government allows Indian companies to build post secondary education facilities, those companies will be hiring the students. Ultimately, the increase in knowledgeable workers should increase revenues at Indian companies and provide increased funds to the government through taxes.

  14. Dennis Zhong

    Most of the MBA students have business related job for daily life. Those jobs are under high pressure and busy condition. As a result, some MBA students might not well prepare for their test, but they spend good money and time for it. Therefore some students take the short cut.

    High tech is just a tool. Without smart phone, people can still find other way to cheat. However, smart phones become a very popular belonging and “cheat tool”. Organization should prevent this epidemic. One of the solutions, the organization can use high tech to prevent the high tech cheating, like device check before enter the exam room. The negative side of this solution, it is expensive.

  15. Dave B.

    The motivations of this type of high tech cheating are pretty obvious. The pressure to get into a higher education system to obtain a degree in the highly populated labour force.

    The methods of the high tech cheating are very elaborate and use the basic gadgets that anyone can purchase. However, it takes a certain amount of skill to network and create a task force to carry out the plan.

    Some solutions could vary from extreme to ordinary. They could implement a screening process as the story revealed the 2 men first writing the exam were past graduates. Sure they could use fake names but the screening process could be a little more elaborate to erase such an easy cover. On the extreme end they could scan every test subject prior to walking into the testing center in order to detect excessive electronic devices void of lets say…calculators.

  16. Amber Dashney

    There were 70,000 candidates who had completed an undergraduate medical degree and they were competing for 4000 spots into medical school. With the factors of not only wasting your time and money hanging in the balance, also the thought of disappointing your family is enough to push someone to desperate measures to pass the postgraduate specialized test for medical school entrance. This was also the first time that there was a standardized test put in place for entrance so many students probably didn’t know how to handle the situation. India is short of secondary educational buildings and staff so the competition to get into a school is harsh, and students will pay a lot of money to get in their first try saving their time, even if it includes high-tech cheating.
    Some possible solutions for high tech cheating are ensuring that students are searched before entering the exam, searched for any cellphones or earpieces that may be used for cheating purposes. Punishment for these students who break the rules should be harsh and set as examples for the rest of students trying to get into these schools. Also if there were more schools for the students to apply to, competition wouldn’t be so harsh and this would release some of the stress on these students preventing them from trying to cheat in the first place.

  17. Adam Baum :)

    The motivations for high tech cheating are simple. There is rationalization on the cheater he won’t get caught, there is opportunity in this ever-growing world of technology to have access to easy ways to cheat, and last but most importantly, there is motive to do well and succeed in life. It is a well-known fact that university graduates on average make more per year, and since in our world, your success is largely measured on your income, it makes sense to do everything possible to obtain the highest income possible – within reason. To be completely honest, I was really impressed with the lengths that these individuals went to in order to cheat. To sacrifice $70,000 to pass the exam is quite the sacrifice. I am in no way now, nor will I ever be, for cheating, but I must admit that I have heard of some clever ways to cheat that deserve a prize or something!! Before coming to UofL, I studied for a bit up at the UofCalgary campus (about 5 years ago, in 2007/2008) One thing that I remember was that in some of the classrooms, the brick was so thick in the walls and probably the paint too, that you couldn’t get a cellphone signal at all. Usually when Telus loses service, it’s not a surprise, but it happened with every cell phone signal, and sometimes to wifi signals as well. This could be a possible solution to testing centres to prevent any onset of cheating in the future.

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