The German University system has recently taken a blow as several high-ups have been accused and found guilty of plagiarism.  One such person was Germany’s Minister of Research and Education, Annette Schava:

“Rarely do political scandal and academe collide so publicly as they have now, in Europe. In February, Germany’s education minister stepped down after Heinrich Heine University, in Düsseldorf, revoked her doctorate because her thesis lifted passages from other sources without proper attribution.” The Chronicle – Feb. 2013

Several other high-ups have been accused as well.  As a result, this scandal has been associated with the quality of the German University system in general.

Wolfgang E.J. Weber, director of the Institute for European Cultural History, says his historian colleagues from elsewhere in Europe no longer consider the German system to be the gold standard. The Chronicle – Feb. 2013

For students who put their blood (probably not literally), sweat (maybe literally), and tears (definitely literally) into their theses and dissertations, this seems like sand in the face.  Imagine if you finally received a title that that took you three years to earn and now it means next to nothing. Not my idea of a good time.  Information in the digital age travels fast.  This news affects anyone who has ever received a degree from a German institution.  Its like a blemish on a record of good standing – one that may never go away despite the repeated attempts to buff it clean.

Keep this in mind the next time you cut and paste.  The worst part – this is NOT a slippery slope that I am creating as an example to scare you.  This is HAPPENING right now.  Academics across the globe are looking at Germany and thinking “What the heck happened over there?” because several of their leaders were able to get away with cheating in school.  Take a tip from American leaders – cheat on your spouse, cheat on your taxes, but do NOT cheat on your schoolwork.

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