Academic Dishonesty: Competitive Environment and the Role of Employers

Employers must consider more than mere academic credentials when choosing employees if they hope to employ honest and ethical workers.

Best Practices April 29, 2021

Writing on, Cole argues that: “The rate of emerging graduates is increasing daily, making the labor market very competitive… Unemployment is a global issue; many countries are working round the clock to see how the demands in employment for their ever-increasing population are being met.” Consequently, while college students are mostly concerned about breaking through the great job market competition, employers are looking for the highest achievers. The only way some students see to increase their competitive advantage in job search is cheating. 

While there are benefits to employers looking for the highest achievers, a constant truth among employers is that they “want employees who are dependable, trustworthy, and good at their jobs” (Rasico, 2020). Lohrey advises employers that while credentials, formal education and job-related experience are important, they may not be enough to help you choose the “perfect” candidate. Consequently, employers can help schools produce honest, skilled and qualified employees if they could balance their employment requirements between good GPAs and other criteria such as stated above. Students will then focus more on mastering the subject matter at the same time conducting themselves honestly and ethically.

As they prepare for employment, students need to be reminded that employers hire for skills and fire for behavior. “Employees are not necessarily fired because of their resume. They’re fired⁠—or they quit⁠—because of underlying behavioral and cognitive discrepancies that simply make them a bad fit for the job (Peterson, n.d.)”. If students cheat all the way through school, won’t they likely be cheating at work as well? The answer is in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager/Steward (Luke 16:10): He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 

The veracity of the above scriptural reference has been confirmed by multiple studies that have established that academic dishonesty practice does not stop once a student leaves school. A representative summary of such findings includes: 1) students who engage in dishonest acts in college classes are more likely to engage in dishonest acts in the workplace (Nonis & Owens Smith, 2010). 2) Academic dishonesty appears to be a precursor to workplace dishonesty… [it] has the ability to do harm to members of the society who count on its workers to be productive and honest (Gillepsie, 2003). 3) Subjects who engaged in behaviors considered severely dishonest in college also engaged in behaviors considered severely dishonest at work (Sims, 2010). 4) According to the Anti-Corruption Helpdesk of Transparency International, “Many studies produced in the last 20 years have demonstrated a link between the lack of academic integrity within the students’ group and future dishonesty in their professional life” (Wickberg, 2013).It is therefore important that educators at all levels seriously address this issue because current students “are the people who will be responsible for civil society and the economy. They will be the people who serve our food, clean our buildings, vaccinate our children, provide us with prescription drugs, and report our news” (Gillepsie, 2003). Thus, employers who are requiring applicants to provide more than their academic credentials are probably helping students to focus more on both grades and other important job requirements.


Athanase Rutebuka

Rutebuka has a PhD in Educational Administration and Supervision – Andrews University. He served as Interim President of Ethiopia Adventist College (2013-2015), Africa. Associate Professor; currently serving as Head of the Department of Management. Is author of "School Violence and Unspoken Messages to Children: The Remedy Is In Your Hands" (2001) and "My Story" (2010), a book that tells the story of a church established and developed under difficult circumstances.

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