I am a junior student at a private engineering college. The amount of dishonesty I have seen in the last 3 years is tremendous.
There has not been a single assignment which hasn't been plagiarized by the entire class. Usually a couple of people do it early and everyone just copies it from them. This is not even considered cheating but rather treated as real work. Some of my friends think that this is the way assignments are supposed to be done because this is the kind of culture they have heard about from their friends in other colleges and even from lecturers' description of their years in college. It does not end here.
I have seen the entire class cheating in exams. Almost every time, there are people who are carrying the entire book in their pockets to cheat from. They generally get the textbook copied to A6 or A7 pages. Numerous times I have seen invigilators either actively passing around answers or mostly just letting everyone and anyone copy answers from each other.
Our course grades are decided 80% by the final exam and 20% by mid term examinations. I have seen very few(hardly 3-5 course instructors out of the 36 courses I have taken so far) course instructors who did not manipulate the 20% mid term grades heavily. Each semester has a certain number of labs and these grades are also rigged.
There have been exams when every single person in the university knew the question paper in advance. It was reported in the newspapers but was plainly brushed aside by the university management.
This has effected the quality of my education to an unusual extent. It is very lucrative to cheat when you realize that you are failing the course and a single peek can pass you. I do not think I will be able to stand against this alarming tolerance for dishonesty any longer.
It makes me question the authenticity, if there is any left, of my degree and the value of my education. Can I do anything at all to change the status quo? How should I go about collecting facts around this and document my findings as something concrete that will likely create an impact?
Edit: I should make an important distinction between my university and college and clarify that my university is an Affiliating University. There are 128 engineering colleges in the state, both public and private, that operate directly under it. If you were to pick say 5 colleges in this sorry mess that attract the most employers, my college will certainly be in that list. Yet, that says nothing among the quality of the jobs offered which are both low-paying and disappointing.
I have sat and talked about this with my parents and professors. A lot of answers suggest transfer or a fresh application to a different institute. I am, however, reluctant to go for either of these for a variety of reasons.
- There is a serious lack of such institutions in India. I have talked to a lot of people from all parts of the country and the academic dishonesty is omnipresent. I would not be surprised if a link is ever found between academic dishonesty and bureaucratic corruption. A handful of institutions which still uphold the standards of formal education (by my perception) do not have undergrad programs or they are terribly tough to get in.
- The financial burden of a fresh application or more expensive tuition at a different institution will be huge. Most of the scholarships offered in India are based on GPA or Entrance Exam scores, the rest are only for applicants of certain castes. Neither do I boast phenomenal test scores nor am I from those castes.
- Physical classrooms are a very inefficient method for delivery of information and ideas. A fair share of what I have learnt comes from the freelancing and the internet. I have varied interests in a lot of subjects. For that reason, I have rarely been doing anything for longer than a month or two. I have been a huge supporter of OpenCourseWare movement and MOOCs for a long time.
- The only reason I have not dropped out yet is because I do not know what will I do if I drop out and secondly, I find college an amazing place to interact with a lot of people.