Another glimpse into online academic fraud


The real problem with our higher education system is the academic fraud, predominantly paid for by the student loan scam. If our schools offered a legitimate education, the bulk of the issues we’re seeing there would be irrelevant.

A somewhat buried scandal gives a clue what’s going on here:

NCAA Punishes Missouri in Blatant Academic Fraud Case

At first glance, this looks like your typical run-of-the-mill athletic fraud:

A former tutor at the University of Missouri at Columbia performed academic work — including taking three full online courses — for a dozen athletes, helping to keep many of them eligible to compete, the National Collegiate Athletic Association found Thursday.

This is little different at UNC, where athletes were being given bogus courses for bogus credit to the student (sic) athletes could stay on the team. At UNC, things got out of control and the regular students started taking the fake courses as well (although there were also tutors ready and waiting to do the student (sic) athlete’s coursework also).

It’s hard to read the following without laughing:

The NCAA committee said the penalties could have been worse had the panel concluded that the tutor was acting either at the encouragement or with the knowledge of other university officials, as she asserted was the case.

That’s right, the NCAA is actually asserting that the tutor did all that coursework “just for fun,” that absolutely no university official encouraged her in any way, that nobody thought it odd that the student (sic) athletes, who often read at around the 2nd grade level, were passing actual college courses.

The former mathematics tutor…whose November 2016 confession to Missouri administrators brought the case to the university’s (and the NCAA’s) attention, had asserted that athletics administrators pressured her to make sure her tutees passed, and that supervisors had “approved and rewarded her for her conduct,”

The tutor, of course, claims that her bosses directed her to assist the athletes in passing in any way possible. The gentle reader should understand that I had bosses in higher ed direct me to pass students, too, and I saw many corrupt faculty rewarded for similar conduct…I find her story quite credible. But, admin at the school denies everything, so that’s the end of that (admin at UNC also denied everything for nearly 20 years before the mountains of evidence became insurmountable to deny).

She wound up, over the next 18 months, completing work for six athletes in University of Missouri math courses, including a self-paced online applied statistics course for which she completed and in some cases submitted assignments on the athletes’ behalf.

Seriously, the NCAA is actually buying admin’s claim that she did all this all on her own, for no benefit at all.

The NCAA concluded that the tutor had also helped two athletes score high enough on Missouri’s (unproctored) math placement exam to place out of remedial math.

I’m really supposed to believe that the tutor had the ability to order the exams to have no proctors? Does truly nobody at the NCAA have a clue how exams work? The only way this can happen is if admin set up the tests to be as easy to cheat on as possible…any actual scholar would have asked the exams to be proctored, and no, a tutor would not be in a position to override such a request. If the NCAA’s investigation was this credulous, you can pretty much write off the rest of what their investigation had to say.

Granted, college sportsball is so hideously corrupt that this really is just a typical story, hardly worth a mention…but there’s something buried in the article:

She also helped athletes fulfill some of their university math requirements through online courses offered by other colleges, which the NCAA asserts that “a significant portion of the [Missouri] student population” does because “Missouri’s math courses are historically difficult.” (A university spokesman did not respond to requests for information about how commonly that actually happens.)

As luck would have it, I actually know “a bit” about undergraduate math courses. A quick review of Mizzou’s course offerings reveals nothing particularly difficult about their courses. I don’t expect the NCAA to realize the university is simply lying again here (and I respect the spokeman’s unwillingness to reinforce that lie in any way), but I want to address the little detail glossed over in the above.

As I covered in detail many times on this blog, online degrees are basically worthless. This has been known “in the real world” for well over a decade…but the bottom line is there’s good money to be made in online “education.”

Online degrees are worthless because online courses are generally worthless. But what of “brick and mortar” degrees? Those are still considered of some value, at least more than fully online degrees…and here’s where the trick comes in.

Schools, not just Mizzou, often allow students to transfer in a few credit hours. So, if the “real” math course is difficult, students just buy a fake course from some online place, and then transfer it in.

Now, supposedly, the math course is preparation for harder material, but many degree programs are set up, deliberately, so that a student can fake his way through the prep (or “general education”) courses and be fine taking their “advanced” material in fields of no relevance.

I know the race riots, shutdowns of free speech, and rampant plundering of the student loan money, to list just a few issues, appear to be big issues in today’s higher education system, but bottom line, all of these would be forgivable (or nonexistent) if we could at least insist on legitimate education in that system.