Dumb and Dumberest

The story of the University of Newcastle plagiarism scandal continues:

Professor Marimuthu was 18 days from signing a new five-year agreement that increased the annual fee payable by the Institut WIRA in Malaysia, where the campus was based, from $50,000 to $300,000.

He asked the offshore program co-ordinator to review the problem essays “more generously” and warned recruitment could suffer “if word gets out” about large numbers of students failing, the commission heard yesterday….

Despite all students having received anti-plagiarism instruction in the course outlines, he had not considered this to be a case of cheating.

“I was of the view that it was weak referencing.”

He had formed this view without examining the papers for plagiarism, and had never investigated whether plagiarism had taken place, as had been alleged by Ian Firns, a lecturer.

When the commissioner, Peter Hall, SC, asked if he could “point to any fact” that showed why he never acted to protect the academic standards of Institut WIRA and the university by investigating this “grave” case, Professor Marimuthu said “it did not occur to me”, and the 15 students had done well in other subjects.

He also told the commission that never in his career had he detected plagiarism, and that he lacked the computer skills necessary to look for stolen prose on the internet.

OK, welcome to my course on how to look for stolen prose on the Internet. I’m Tim Lambert and I’ll be your teacher. Type a phrase from the essay into Google and press return. That’s it, collect your diploma on the way out.

You know, the newspaper stories have been so damning that I thought that maybe the reporter was taking stuff out of context to make Ryder and company look like fools, but you can read the transcripts yourself and see that these actually make these people look even worse.

The hearing continues on Friday with Ian Firns who promises fireworks:

I daresay that my evidence will give rise to some further media comment. I will be directly contradicting parts of Ryder’s testimony in particular – so one of us may end up being charged with perjury!

Paul Watson calls for the dismissal of English, Ryder, MacDonald and Zeffane (Rugimbana has already left, and Holmes is retiring soon). Seems fair, except that Zehane (who remarked the essays) doesn’t deserve to be sacked since the evidence of plagiarism was concealed from him. And if the University wanted to try to recover its reputation and demonstrate a commitment against plagiarism it should rehire Ian Firns.


  1. #1 Francis Xavier Holden
    September 16, 2004

    Someone who has the title Professor and says that “never in his career had he detected plagiarism, and that he lacked the computer skills necessary to look for stolen prose on the internet.” should be sacked and charged with fraud forthwith.

    Dato’ Dr T Marimuthu

    BA (UM), DASEd (Manchester), MEd, PhD (Manchester), KMN, SDK, DSDK

    Dato’ Dr Marimuthu is a distinguished Malaysian who has made a mark both in academia and public life. After 20 years of service in the University of Malaya where he rose to the position of Professor of Social Foundations, he left the university in 1990 to enter public life. He served a term in the cabinet as Deputy Minister of Agriculture and thereafter became a Senator in Parliament. He holds the position of Deputy President of the Senator’s Club and is Chairman of its International Relations Committee. A long standing member of the MIC Central Working Committee and the CEO of Institute WIRA. Dato’ Marimuthu has served as consultant to various international organisations such as UNESCO, NDI and the World Bank on educational and parliamentary matters and is the author of several well known books and articles in the field of sociology of education

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