Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- A number of research centers in Saudi Arabia continue to provide university students with prepared term papers. These centers target students who are either unable or unwilling to complete their own research due to lack of time or lack of the required knowledge.
Most departments of Saudi universities set May 22 as the final deadline for receiving student papers, as this date coincides with the first day of general examinations. A number of these research centers that are located in various districts near to Saudi universities and student halls, offer students services such as selling term papers, translating, printing, bookbinding and photocopying documents. The employers of these centers offer students literary and scientific research that the students have been assigned by their university professors. Employers of such centers promote their services around the same time each year and offer students attractive deals that will include delivering their term papers within 48 hours for approximately 300 or 400 Saudi Riyals (SR) per paper.
Despite serious disputes that take place each year between Saudi students and professors in the University of King Saud in Riyadh as the students are discovered to have bought their term papers rather than completing the research themselves, the number of students using this service continues to rise.
Mohamed T, a communication studies student at the University of King Saud had to withdraw his term paper that he had bought from one of these research centers for 450SR after he discovered that the same assignment had been presented by another student who had bought the paper from the same center. Mohamed sought to justify his action saying that it was difficult to understand the research methods. Furthermore, due to his increasing anxiety as the deadline for term papers approached, he felt he had no choice but to resort to a research center to purchase a paper.
Khaled D, a student in the Faculty of Languages and Translation, admitted that he has never prepared his own research since beginning university. He says that it is “amazing” that by paying 10SR per page, he can score top grades at the end of the academic year. He also believes that the majority of students do not put any effort into their own term papers. He said, “Many students resort to copying and pasting from internet websites, whereas others resort to research centers that save them from the burden of writing their own term papers.”
Dr. Ali Al Khabti, the undersecretary for the ministry of education, stated that the stereotypical idea that Saudi students have regarding research papers is completely incorrect. He asserted that such projects are assigned to students to enable them to express their own perspectives on the chosen topics based on the students’ research and knowledge. This is different to the way the teaching methods that they may have relied during the year. He added, “In other countries, research projects by students are used as sources and references for scholars and researchers. Students exert tremendous efforts in researching and reading throughout the academic year so that their papers would be useful, unlike what we see here in the Saudi universities.”
Al Khabti associates this dishonest practice to the absence of a culture of research and its importance to discovery and creativity. This is in addition to the inability of students to use research methods that should be incorporated in high school curricula. He blamed professors who consider research projects simply as a way to add to students’ final grades. He asserted that this outlook indirectly endorses the same negative representation that university students have of research projects and undermines the role of research.