Ghostwriting hits credibility of Chinese expat students

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Soon after arriving in Britain for postgraduate study, Wang Fang (not a real name) found her microblog filled with ads touting a peculiar kind of “academic aid.”

Chinese expat students with poor English or academic performance need not worry about essay writing, the ads said, as they offer ghostwriting services for a course essay at a price of 100 pounds (US$164) per 1,000 words, and more than 1,000 pounds for an entire thesis.

The business is popular among the well-off, as the London School of Economics graduate often heard about Chinese students idling away their years in Britain but successfully graduating by hiring ghostwriters.

“One student-turned British ghostwriter told me some Chinese gave generous amount of money and often brought in other clients,” Wang said.

Wang’s observation might be common among the ever-growing legion of Chinese students in foreign colleges.

On China’s e-commerce platform, a search of “essay ghostwriting for expat students” leads to nearly 100 entries on such services.

Another website said it had Chinese and foreign master and doctoral degree holders capable of ghostwriting in a range of disciplines, including business, management and media.

The website requires a down payment but ensures its clients make the final installment only after the essay passes a computer program designed to detect plagiarism.

As more Chinese students pursue overseas education to “gild” their resumes, some students cannot adjust to Western education and turn to ghostwriting, said Zhang Kaiqi, who chairs the Chinese Students and Scholars Association of University College London.

Education experts in China have also claimed that some foreign universities do not monitor work stringently enough.

“Some foreign universities care about making money out of students, so have lax management and are loose in granting degrees,” said Zhang Li, an official in charge of expat student services in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

The trend has already taken its toll on Chinese returnee students.

“Many interviewers are not excited by but suspicious of our diplomas,” said Wu Yang, who will soon graduate from Japan’s Waseda University.

A Hangzhou-based newspaper editor explained his concerns, “Some wealthy Chinese students spent their years abroad in beer and skittles, some could not even speak English well, yet they still managed to graduate.”

“That’s why I am cautious when recruiting them,” he said.


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