Chinese university presidents on Thursday called for harsher penalties for academics responsible for dishonest or fraudulent research results after a spate of recent fraud cases.
"Plagiarism and other profit-driven acts are common in China's academies, tarnishing our international image," said Wu Jianmin, president of the Foreign Affairs College.
Wu, a former Chinese Ambassador to France, urged the government to take serious action to discourage deception. "We should not go soft on academic fraud. If we let one fraudster go today, there will be ten more tomorrow."
In most of China's universities, post-graduates students are required to publish a certain number of theses in key academic journals before they are granted a master or a doctoral degree.
Many desperate students turn to plagiarism in order to graduate, said Ji Baocheng, president of the People's University. This reflected the loss of morality and credibility across society.
Post-graduate students guilty of plagiarism at the People's University were denied their degrees.
"Even the deception is discovered after the conferring of the degree, the degree will be revoked," he said.
Xu Xianming, president of China University of Political Science and Law, said the fundamental purpose of academic research was the pursuit of truth, which was denied in the event of plagiarism.
Dieter Lenzen, president of the Berlin Free University of Germany, said plagiarism was easy to commit, but difficult to discover, in the age of rapidly developing Internet technology.
"Plagiarism is an insult to academic study," he said, adding a dozen institutes investigating plagiarism had been set up in Germany.
Ian Chubb, president of the Australia National University, expressed his "great regret" yet "certain understanding" for plagiarism under an academic-degree-oriented educational system.
Plagiarism awareness was more important than punishment, he said. In his school, an institute had been set up for investigation and education.
Earlier this year, the Chinese Ministry of Education also set up a special committee to build a sound environment for academic research.
In May, Chen Jin, a dean at Shanghai Jiaotong University, was fired for faking research on the Hanxin computer chip, which had received state-funding.
Chen, who formerly chaired the Micro-electronics School at Shanghai Jiaotong University, was found to be deceiving technological appraisal teams from the government, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai municipal government and relative ministries, which invested public funds in his research project.
In late April, Yang Jie, former director of the Life Science and Technology Institute, was sacked from the prestigious Tongji University in Shanghai after the veracity of his academic record was questioned.
Liu Hui, of the Beijing-based Qinghua University, was dismissed as professor and assistant to the director of the university's medical school in March for faking his academic achievements and work experience.