Formally, the teacher “invented” a certain fact in the educational process.

On the other hand, it sometimes seems that the “struggle for virtue” for individuals has simply become a convenient tool for solving rather dubious tasks. At the same time, the discussion itself sometimes goes beyond “information integrity”, as well as decency. However, about this – another time …

With great pleasure I read the article by Roman Melnyk, Doctor of Law, Professor, Head of the Department of Administrative Law of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv “On Academic Integrity and Dangers in the Struggle for It”. As the title suggests, the author points out that the struggle for virtue can bring not only benefits but also dangers, and therefore be dangerous.

Until recently, the concept of “academic integrity” did not exist in the legal field of Ukraine. Therefore, under this phrase everyone could understand anything. I remember 2014, when I was elected (for the second time) to the Public Council at the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. Several committees were set up within this council, the largest being the Higher Education Committee (which consisted of nine people, mostly students). The Committee was undoubtedly headed by a talented young man, a public activist who had only one drawback: he had never worked in any educational institution (instead he had the experience of a pupil and student). Once it came to academic corruption. I asked the activists: “What exactly do you mean?” They replied that teachers should not take bribes for exams.

I decided to discuss and noticed that a bribe is when one gives and the other takes. Do not give bribes, attend classes honestly, follow the curriculum, hand in self-written writings on time, read textbooks, try to creatively reproduce the acquired knowledge – and there will be no “vital field” for “academic corruption”. I was looked at as an old moralizer …

In 2014, the Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education” was adopted, which did not define the concept of academic integrity. Instead, the responsibilities of participants in the educational process (including research and teaching staff and students) were “prescribed”, which, with some reservations, could be considered norms of academic integrity. In addition, there is a whole section that defines the institute of quality of higher education.

At the same time, the draft Statute of the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education was discussed. The author of these lines submitted 8 proposals for this project. Initially, the answer was not received: “ignore” is enabled. We had to send proposals to the Cabinet. A letter from the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine signed by First Deputy Minister Inna Sovsun informed me that out of 8 proposals, 6 were supported. Happy end? Do not think.

Ms. Inna did not report on the degree to which these proposals were taken into account (because “supporting” on paper does not mean “taking into account” or “implementing” in the final version of the document). This letter, made in the best bureaucratic traditions, I still keep as a souvenir. By the way, the Public Council at the Ministry of Education and Science of the 2014 model and its numerous “activists” did not submit any proposals to the draft Statute of the agency … Probably because the grantors for such work did not provide funds “

In 2017, the Law of Ukraine “On Education” was adopted, in which an entire article is devoted to the issue of academic integrity (42). According to paragraph 1 of Article 42 of the Law of Ukraine “On Education”, academic integrity is a set of ethical principles and rules defined by law, which should guide participants in the educational process during training, teaching and scientific conducting (creative) activities to ensure confidence in learning outcomes and / or scientific (creative) achievements.

Thus, the concept of “academic integrity”, as it was mentioned in the legal act, became not only “moral” or “ethical”, but also legal.

In my opinion, the construction of legal norms enshrined in Article 42 of the Law of Ukraine “On Education”, so to speak, does not provide reliable mechanisms to maintain academic integrity at the appropriate level. By the way, even at the stage of discussing the bill, we submitted a number of proposals in this regard. However, this time no proposal was even “supported”. It was raging in 2017, and scrupulous reading of legal definitions was no longer fashionable.

What do we have “in the balance”? Paragraph 4 of this article describes possible violations of academic integrity. If the norm is applied literally and formally (and in the vast majority of cases the legal norms are applied), then almost all participants in the educational process can be considered violators, because the legislator (at the request of “reformers”) used very vague and even declarative interpretations.

Let’s “turn on the creative.” For example, the law states that fabrication is the fabrication of data or facts used in the educational process or research. If 10 students under the guidance of one teacher have an internship at different companies – of course, the teacher simply can not physically control all students at once. Instead, in a response to the results of the internship, the teacher writes that the students have fully completed the internship program (although in fact one of the students on a certain day could be an hour late or leave the company an hour earlier). Formally, the teacher “invented” a certain fact in the educational process. That is, allowed fabrication!

Read on. “Falsification is the deliberate alteration or modification of existing data relating to the educational process or research.” Explain it to me, economist. There are data that in Ukraine the volume of GDP is equal to a certain amount of hryvnias. There is evidence that a certain number of people live in Ukraine. If we divide the first indicator by the second – we get the volume of GDP per capita, and this is one of the most important indicators used in the analysis of economic policy. But what did I do? I deliberately “modified” the existing data concerning “scientific research”. That is, he committed falsification?

And finally – my favorite. “Writing – the performance of written work involving external sources of information, other than those permitted for use, in particular when evaluating learning outcomes.” I wrote a scientific article, it contains the data of an expert or sociological survey, which I conducted myself. I may be asked: were you allowed to conduct an expert survey? Present a document called “Permission”! None. So you used a “source of information that is not allowed to be used.” So, there was a “write-off”.

Modern fighters for academic integrity do not care about such “subtleties”. They operate with concepts such as “lepton God”, “murzilka”, “dump”, “plagiarist”, because it is much easier, and most importantly – more understandable to the Facebook community.

The mechanism for conducting academic integrity reviews and making decisions on these reviews is declarative. For example, paragraph 8 of Article 42 of the Law of Ukraine “On Education” states: “The procedure for identifying and establishing violations of academic integrity is determined by the authorized collegial governing body of the educational institution, taking into account the requirements of this Law and special laws. ” Perfectly. This means that in absolutely all educational institutions, including kindergartens and secondary schools, documents should be developed that define “the procedure for identifying and establishing the facts of violation of academic integrity”. Next: what exactly is a “collegial governing body”? In a higher education institution, for example, there may be several such bodies. Should each of them develop their own “order”?

Suppose an inspection is carried out, violations are found. What to do next? By logic, the conclusions of the inspection should be sent to the head of the institution, and he should make a decision “in accordance with the requirements of the law” and impose penalties. But when I write “by logic”, it is not synonymous with the phrase “according to the law.” If the violator appeals against what was done “logically”, but without following the legal procedure – quite rightly the violator’s claims will be satisfied, and the decision to impose a penalty – is canceled.

Interestingly, there is a discussion about the “main state body” that should be responsible for academic integrity. There is Article 19 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which states that the authorities can do only what is defined by law – a kind of “competence approach”. The Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine exercises only those powers that are defined by the relevant Regulation. The National Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education cannot be such a body a priori, as it is a “legal entity under public law” (according to the Statute) and has no control or supervisory powers.

In addition, the National Agency, as its name implies, extends its attention to “higher education”, but does not have the competence to address issues in the fields of “science” (scientific institutions of national academies of sciences and various departments), “vocational education”, “secondary education”, “non-governmental sector” and so on – that is, all other areas where research can be carried out or the educational process can continue.

I can write many, many more words to show all the “weaknesses” of the existing legal framework on academic integrity. What am I leading to? To the fact that the legal framework for academic integrity is fragmentary and declarative, and therefore needs to be improved. “Without clear regulation and transparent procedures in this area, we may fall into a state of ‘war of all against all,'” wrote the author of “On Academic Integrity and the Dangers of Fighting for It,” and we must fully agree with this conclusion.

I disagree with the author of the article “On Academic Integrity and Dangers in the Struggle for It” on only two points. Roman Melnyk correctly provided a list of penalties (punishments) that can be applied to a person in case of violations of academic integrity (part 5 of article 42 of the Law of Ukraine “On Education”). But it says: “The subject of these penalties is / will be the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education.” I do not understand: from what it follows?

There should be clear instructions in this regard in the law, but there are none. The law states: “for violation of academic integrity, pedagogical, scientific-pedagogical and scientific staff of educational institutions may be held subject to the following academic liability: … deprivation of the right to participate in the work of statutory bodies or hold statutory positions. ” But I do not understand: how can the National Agency deprive a doctor of science of the right to hold the position of head of the department? There is a Code of Labor Laws, there is a contract, there is an order of the rector.