Некоторые материалы предыдущего номера “Моста” были посвящены проблеме плагиата. Приведя ссылки на публикации, касающиеся “липовых” диссертаций и фальшивых степеней, которые стали все чаще появляться в СМИ и блогах, (как академия, так и общество в целом начинают осознавать масштаб происходящего) мы задали членам МАГ вопросы “кто виноват?” и “что делать?”. В развитие темы в этом номере – ссылки на два важных прецедента, связанных с качеством научной продукции: сообщение о том, что Министерство образования и науки РФ “обяжет все высшие учебные заведения размещать в открытом доступе на своих сайтах квалификационные, курсовые, дипломные, докторские, кандидатские и диссертационные работы каждого студента и аспиранта” и абсолютно “невероятное” решение, принятое Ученым советом ВШЭ. Университет вернет Министерству образования и науки аванс, истраченный на подготовку исследования, “посвященного якобы «созданию новой теории «Экономическая теория ценностей». Ректор ВШЭ Ярослав Кузьминов прокомментировал решение так: “Ситуация, при которой бюджетные деньги были бы заплачены за то, что можно назвать набором слов, стала бы позором для нас”.
Ниже – текст члена Совета МАГ, директора Международных программ Американского совета научных обществ (ACLS) Анждея Тимовского о конференции, состоявшейся в конце осени 2012 года в Католическом университете Львова и посвященной академической культуре и гражданскому обществу, свободному от коррупции.
“From the New Academic Culture to a Civil Society Free from Corruption” –
A conference at the Ukrainian Catholic University
Evaluation and Commentary
by Andrzej W. Tymowski
The conference was very professionally conceived, designed, and conducted. The main topic – What is corruption in higher education and how can it be stopped? – is important and timely. The speakers covered many aspects of the subject. They were leaders of independent or independent-minded institutions of higher education in Ukraine, concerned members of the faculty, and students. The topics were well chosen and the speakers covered the ground they were to discuss comprehensively and competently.
Audience members participated actively and thoughtfully. Clearly, the conference stimulated a desire to get the root of the problems and to find solutions. It motivated key members of the Ukrainian academic community, from leaders of universities, to faculty and students, to think seriously about how widespread corrupt practices are and how they are imbedded in a culture that tolerates them. Much work needs still to be done to counteract them by defining good practices that can change mentalities and by instituting practical measures for preventative monitoring.
The conference offered a much better and more detailed description of corrupt practices than it provided solutions and suggestions for measures to be taken against corruption.
Corrupt practices in higher education were described graphically by many speakers. Prof. Zlobina recounted the story of a Russian researcher who was hauled into court and punished for daring to publish the results of sociological research he conducted revealing the extent of corruption in higher education. Other sociologists documented the high level of incidence of bribe-taking by university administrators and instructors for passing grades on entrance exams or for course exams. Others showed disturbing rationalizations for tolerating such corrupt practices.
Useful definitions of what constitutes “corruption” were offered as an initial step to identifying specific instances and combatting them. Prof. Kipen two types of abnormalities (deviations from normative standards of academic honesty). The first, “light” type is getting things done outside legal procedures by asking for help from colleagues and friends, trading favors, etc. Much more dangerous is the second type, which is based on a corporative solidarity (not only tolerating, but covering up illegal activity by colleagues). This type moves beyond skirting accepted procedures toward criminal activity.
Clearly, the slippery distinction between the two types makes it easier for individuals to move from one to the other, from less serious use of personal connections to the much more troubling exploitation of positions of authority for personal, financial, or political gain.
A culture of “it’s not me, it’s them” maintains and perhaps even strengthens this definitional and moral laxity. Kipen noted that two thirds of survey respondents declared that corruption is lodged mainly at top levels of management and administration. Only 11% of respondents thought it was characteristic of the local or grass-roots level of the academic community. These dangerous stereotypes, concluded Kipen, show unwillingness on the part of the academic community to openly and collectively confront their own shortcomings and the failings more generally of the system of higher education.
We can draw a large lesson on the basis of Kipen’s analysis, which was fully compatible with other presentations at the conferences. In order for corrupt practices to be identified and effective measures against them to be implemented, there must first be established a culture of openness in collective self-examination. The culture of openness needs to exist within cohorts (that is, within the leadership of institutions of higher education) but also between management, administration, faculty, students, and stakeholders such as parents and employers.
At present, the corporative culture of academic life shuns open, collective discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of practices related to admission of students, grading and assessment in classes, evaluation of masters’ and Ph.D. theses, hiring of faculty, etc. While individual decisions (and reasons for them) in each of these cases are a confidential matter that must be left to the proper authorities, the standards and norms governing them, and the grievance procedures of those who wish to contest them, must be a matter of public discussion within the academic community. They must be transparent (that is, the rationale for their implementation must be clear and substantiated in written documents) both within the academic community and to stakeholders outside of it.
Unfortunately, “open, collective discussion” has a negative connotation in the academic communities in Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe. It conjures images of politically-motivated criticism sessions in which an individual is pilloried for real or insinuated infractions. Better to have such matters handled “discreetly,” outside of formal procedures…That is, better to have them handled in one of Kipen’s two types of corrupt practices.
How to change such a culture? The Ukrainian Catholic University constitutes a model for possible emulation. It is, of course, a small institution, with a strong Catholic ethos promulgated by its leadership and accepted by faculty and students. This is important in creating a culture of high standards. However, it needs to be said, to the great credit of UCU, that these factors alone are not enough. They could be mere declarations. At UCU they appear to be practiced in the daily life of the institution.
More than that UCU has taken great strides toward the culture and practices of open, collective discussion. Its code declares that UCU is an “open academic community.” Faculty feel free to discuss “difficult questions” with one another and with students. The very fact that a survey of students was conducted at UCU asking about the incidence of corrupt practices, and what a student might do if, for example, he was asked by a fellow student to copy answers on a test, is significant, although surely not unique. What is unique, and what is a very hopeful sign, is that this survey and its implications have been discussed with students and by students among themselves.
These steps toward creating an open, collective discussion of the basis for honesty in academic practices constitute the hope for the future. On condition, of course, that they be deepened, sustained, and widely spread throughout the Ukrainian system of higher education.