Group of eight universities object to takeover of Ouriginal. by Turnitin

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“Turnitin looks forward to continuing to offer bespoke solutions that meet the specific needs of institutions as well as assessment and integrity solutions to help students do their best, original work,” said the spokeswoman.

In a statement last month, ACCC said it had preliminary competition concerns regarding Turnitin’s proposed acquisition of Ouriginal.

ACCC fears that the proposed acquisition could significantly reduce competition in an already highly concentrated market and result in higher prices or reduced service levels for the Australian higher education sector, said ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway.

The Go8 filing says it would be difficult for new players to break into the market as it would take years to build a database large enough to tell if a student is copying an assignment from another institution or a previous student Has.

Although the ACCC cannot block the deal between the international companies, it can petition federal court for an injunction to prevent the merger or order a company to dispose of assets.

Cath Ellis, associate professor at UNSW and researcher in academic integrity, said the fraud problem is an “arms race” with students constantly looking for ways to outsmart the software.

“We’re getting better at discovering it and they are getting better at avoiding our discovery,” she said. “A lot of wrongdoings go undetected.”

Although the extent of the problem is difficult to quantify, research from the University of Western Australia estimates that between 8 and 11 percent of university students have submitted assignments written by someone else, a method known as contract fraud.

Anti-plagiarism software vendors are developing tools to respond to newer forms of wrongdoing, including contract fraud, which has emerged because tools like the “copy and paste” offered by Turnitin are effective in detecting plagiarism.

The scale of the problem means the technology is critical to detecting academic misconduct, Ms. Ellis said.

“When you think of the sheer volume of students we talk about and the sheer volume of reviews they give in universities, the numbers quickly add up,” she said.

“These tools are invaluable. We couldn’t maintain the academic integrity requirements that higher education standards require – and which we want to maintain because this is our core business – without the tools. “

The effects of academic misconduct are “devastating” to society and, if left unchecked, would undermine trust in all forms of education, Ms. Ellis said.

The Go8 filing states that Ouriginal is the only other vendor widely seen as competitive with Turnitin in terms of functionality.

“Examples of innovations include the use of optical character recognition, including the ability to recognize handwritten work and ‘stilometry’ to check the consistency of students’ writing style (to combat contract fraud),” a Go8 university reported.

The ACCC is expected to announce its decision on the matter on November 18th.

A spokesman for federal higher education regulator TEQSA said anti-plagiarism software alone would not detect or fix all violations of academic integrity.

“Staff training, institutional guidelines on academic integrity, assessment design, student training and awareness activities are all required to support the effective use of anti-cheating software,” the spokesman said.


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