Why waste your time?

I hear this quoted at me often enough when discussing PhD’s. Many in society, especially in Australia, are very disillusioned with the academy. Some call it “tall poppy syndrome”, some just think academics live in the proverbial ivory tower with no concept of reality, some just think academics are snobs and rubbing everyone’s nose in it.

All of which I disagree with. Yes, there may be the odd case, but in my experience it’s not nearly as widespread as many seem to think.

But then you get stories like this.

People plagiarising their PhD’s. There’s been an increasing number of high profile cases like this in the last few years. Politicians and high ranking executives who have either falsified their CV’s by claiming to have degrees they don’t actually have, or being caught out for plagiarism in their theses.

Is it any wonder people question the worth of years of grad school (and associated costs) when you can just fake it?

It’s even trickling down to criticism of Bachelors degrees now. People are getting their degrees by using paper mills to do their assignments for them and getting their Bachelors degree with doing little to no work themselves. I’ve heard people say “well, if they can afford it, why not?”.

Let me ask you something. Would you want to hire an engineer who is in charge of designing buildings, roads, or bridges who’d faked their way through?

I don’t wish to discount the merits of grad school, or university in general. There are a lot of people out there doing some truly amazing work. But at the same time, I concede that sometimes people have a point in their criticism.

Universities need to improve their image. Not only does this reflect poorly on the individuals who perpetrate these cons, but it reflects badly on the academy for not catching them.

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