Prague, Aug 3 (CTK) – Some Czech universities will check older theses of their graduates in reaction to the recent plagiarism scandals of ministers, while other schools do not plan such measures, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today.
The Masaryk University in Brno is the first to launch random checks of older theses from various faculties though its graduates do not figure in the recent plagiarism affairs of politicians. Moreover, it is exactly Masaryk University that introduced anti-plagiarism systems after 2008.
LN says the schools are mainly to focus on students’ works from 2000-2010, which are the critical years. The plagiarism cases that were or will yet be revealed are likely to be from this period, Mikulas Bek, deputy chairman of the Czech Rectors’ Conference, said.
After 2000, the number of university students started steeply rising, among others because of required university education of civil servants. At the same time, the computer technology development and its accessibility considerably facilitated the copying of texts, while an efficient software system to reveal plagiarism did not work by the end of this decade, Bek explained.
“The universities must persuade the public now that they are doing their utmost to prevent plagiarism,” Bek, a candidate for senator, told LN.
However, the schools are not united in their stance on the problem.
“We will not introduce retroactive checks of theses,” Charles University Rector Tomas Zima told LN.
He points out that the existing system works well. The proceedings of stripping a student of a title over proven plagiarism was launched lately, he said.
The management of the Palacky University in Olomouc, north Moravia, will discuss the possibility to check older theses on Monday, Rector Jaroslav Miller said.
The Technical University in Liberec, north Bohemia, does not rule out this possibility either. “We may check some politicians who studied at our university,” Rector Miroslav Brzezina said.
The problem of plagiarism at universities came into focus after the recent scandals of ministers.
Two ministers in the current coalition government of PM Andrej Babis’s ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO’s Tatana Mala (justice) and the CSSD’s Petr Krcal (labour and social affairs), resigned over plagiarism in their university theses in the past weeks.
Besides, Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) faced a similar suspicion, but the university, where he defended his work, concluded that his MA thesis was no plagiarism, but that he had only not cited sources properly in it. He kept his post.
All three ministers studied at public universities at the time when there was no chance to check theses in IT systems. The tools as Theses.cz to reveal plagiarism have been gradually introduced since 2008 only.
However, the three universities where the ministers suspected of plagiarism studied, that is he Mendel University in Brno (Mala), the Tomas Bata University in Zlin (UTB), south Moravia (Krcal) and the University of Ostrava, north Moravia (Metnar), do not plan any retroactive checks of their graduates’ works.
The Mendel University has used the Theses.cz programme since 2012. In the past three years, it revealed seven cases of plagiarism, two to three per year, its spokeswoman Jirina Studenkova said.
At present 57 universities and colleges, including the 26 public ones, use Theses.cz. Some 700,000 final theses and other 30 million documents are stored in the system.