Corruption in Education: A Major Issue

Corruption in Education: A Major Issue

By Prof. Dr. Mirjana Radović-Marković, Fellow, World Academy of Art & Science

The world today is faced with a large number of problems that threaten our survival on this planet. Not all parts of the world, however, are equally hit by problems that rank among the most serious threats to the human race: high rates of unemployment, poverty, low level of education, poor technological development level, gender discrimination, ethnic and religious inequality and high-level corruption.

Threats to the survival of modern world are numerous: one of the most serious is corruption in education.It is 'damaging education'.

Mirjana Radović-Marković

In addition, lack of financial resources, heavy insolvency of a large number of economies, lack of natural resources, environmental pollution, and political instability in many parts of the world pose more than enough threats to make us tackle these issues seriously. It is difficult to state which of the mentioned problems is most important and endangers the global world most seriously, due to their being interrelated and interdependent. Nevertheless, I would like to highlight the issues of inadequate education and corruption, since these have extremely negative effects upon the survival and development of many countries.

These issues are mostly related to the countries in transition and the developing parts of the world. However, in many developed countries, corruption is also endemic within education. Namely, corruption entered this area and seriously endangers schools and universities. Corruption in the education sector can be defined as “the systematic use of public office for private benefit, whose impact is significant on the availability and quality of educational goods and services, and, has impact on access, quality or equity in education” (Hallak and Poisson, 2002). Unfortunately, very little research has been carried out to compare the costs of corruption in the education sector.

Academic corruption is certainly more visible now than decades ago, and academic knowledge exercises an increasingly important influence in most societies.

 Ivan Pacheco, Inside Higher Ed.,2011

Academic fraud and quality assurance

More than ever before educational institutions have become profit-oriented in their struggle to survive, neglecting their basic function – to train quality and adequate personnel, capable of coping with the crisis the modern world is faced with nowadays.

Hence, we witness  that educational institutions emerge uncontrollably, offering the same or similar curricula in order to attract as large a number of students as possible, rather than curricula that are geared to the structure and needs of the labour market, both at the national and regional levels and at the global level as well. For example, in most Sub-Saharan African countries, enrolment in higher education has grown faster than financing capabilities, reaching a critical stage where the lack of resources has led to a severe decline in the quality of instruction and in the capacity to reorient focus and to innovate. In other words, in Africa's universities, quantity threatens quality. In addition, there are many fake universities, some of which advertise in the international press, circulate information by sending spam and rank high on the hit lists of search engines. We can also see that bachelor, master and doctoral theses can be bought at rather low prices via the Internet, which entirely degrades the importance and sense of education. Accordingly, diplomas are degraded due to their hyperproduction and insufficient knowledge and competence achieved through education to support them. Clearly, this hyperproduction of diplomas cannot solve the problem of insufficient education level of population in many parts of the world, nor can it artificially raise the quota of the literacy level of a nation. Given that education is the basis of the development of a nation and the survival of the global economy, it is necessary that this negative tendency should be curbed as soon as possible. Nothing can ruin a country more than its poor and corrupt education system. Hence, this issue not only calls for a special attention of the scientific public, but largely touches the domain of international criminal law. Consequently, it is necessary that a massive campaign should be launched to close quasi-educational institutions that produce “intellectual cripples”. Education should be given back its original role, however, with a new prefix, that of creating education geared to the students’ needs and new knowledge that will be synergic with the demand on the local, regional and global labour markets. More than ever before we need knowledge that can be applicable to the 21st century economy, a knowledge-based economy. It is for this reason that immediate attention should be paid to education, because of its implications for poverty, unemployment and other problems which the world we live in is faced with today.

Ferraz, Finan, and Moreira (2009) provide more direct evidence of the costs of corruption. They show that students in Brazilian municipalities where corruption was detected in education have test scores that are 0.35 standard deviations lower than those without corruption and have higher dropout and failure rates.

Finally, I would only add that creating a new model of education that would meet the criteria of encouraging individuality and creativity and focus upon students’ interests rather than those of faculties and other educational institutions is not possible to accomplish without solving the problem of corruption in education in the stride. The diploma has to mean  status, knowledge and quality, rather than be an  “unsecured paper” and a path to a world of the unemployed and poor.


Ferraz, C., F. Finan and D.B. Moreira (2009)."Corrupting Learning: Evidence from Missing Federal Education Funds in Brazil. Textos para discussão 562, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).

Hallak, J.; Poisson, M. 2002. Ethics and corruption in education (Policy Forum No. 15). Results from the Expert Workshop held at the IIEP, Paris, France, 28-29 November, 2001. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO.

Pacheco, I.,(2011) ,Inside Higher Ed.

World Bank (2010) , Financing Higher Education in Africa