Examining the Ethical Environment in Higher Education

Mary Richardson, Mary Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2231 Downloads (Pure)


Higher Education Institutions across the world have found themselves faced by new challenges on issues of ethics. Much of this has been centred on issues of assessment: plagiarism, buying essays, sharing/lending of previously passed work and, the stealing of marked/returned work of others. Institutions still treat academic misconduct as a largely behavioural difficulty rather than an issue of ethics (or education) suggesting that academia places a far greater emphasis on combating new forms of dishonesty than it does on encouraging ethical habits and a healthy ethical environment.

To date, the majority of research in this area has examined these forms of academic misconduct from the point of view of the student and/or the university with the perspective of academics receiving very limited attention. Our hypothesis is that academics are perhaps best placed to provide the education needed to create and sustain an ethical environment and we argue that being ‘ethically aware’ is a critical factor in the development of academic competence for all parties.

This study adds to existing research in three ways: firstly, by highlighting the importance of an overall framework for an ethical environment within HEIs; secondly, by suggesting an ecological model of key parties (the university, students and academics) with responsibility for this environment in assessment; thirdly, by including new evidence (generated by a survey of academics) to extend our understanding of their views on these issues.

© 2019, British Educational Research Association. The attached document (embargoed until 09/01/2021) is an author produced version of a paper published in BRITISH EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Article number BERJ3552
Pages (from-to)1089–1104
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2019

Cite this