Service delivery/client interface

At the service delivery level, corruption often takes the form of bribery and extortion whereby parents and students are asked to make informal payments to access education services that are supposed to be free of charge. For those with the means, entrance exam papers or even grades may be available for purchase in advance.

Interactions between teachers and students offer many opportunities for bribery and gift-giving, for example, in private tutoring. The reasons to offer such tutoring are manifold: uncertain employment conditions, greed, a mismatch between graduation or university entry requirements and the offered curriculum or lack of resources.[1] The most commonly given reason is that when under-resourced schooling systems inadequately prepare children for college, parents often resort to private tutoring to ensure that children pass the admission examination. Risks of manipulation are high when the mainstream teacher provides supplementary tutoring after school hours in place of formal teaching as they might teach only part of the curricula during regular hours to “incentivise” students to attend private lessons. Bribes or sexual favours can be extorted from students in exchange for good grades, qualifications or academic recognition by their institution or their teacher.

“Quieter” forms of malpractice by frontline providers may also occur when public servants fail to deliver services or inputs that have been paid for by the government. The most prominent form in education is teacher absenteeism in public schools, the reasons for which are hard to determine and can range from poor working environments to abuse of public office.[2] Support staff might also extract bribes for the services they are hired for (like catering or maintenance) or may favour students and teachers disproportionately if offered a bribe for the same services.

In countries where work-based training programmes are not properly designed and regulated, apprenticeship places in companies can be sold by teachers while lack of regulation allows companies to abuse students and to benefit from a cheap workforce in a context where students are not well protected. Such poorly designed schemes can result in insufficient provision of work-based learning opportunities by firms, low take-up rate by learners, poor learning experience and wasteful use of public resources.[3]

Corruption in higher education institutions manifests itself in various forms, ranging from bribery in recruitment and admissions, on-campus accommodation and grading, nepotism and patronage in tenured postings, political and corporate undue influence in research, plagiarism and other editorial misconduct in academic journals.[4] Fake diplomas, bogus certifications, online diploma and accreditation mills, the manipulation of job placement data and corruption in degree recognition in cross-border education are also common forms of corruption in the higher education sector.[5] Degree mills are institutions that “sell” degrees or diplomas, expecting little or no work or learning from the student. Academic fraud, ghost-authorship or plagiarism involves the use of fraudulent documentation to obtain undue qualification or recognition, undermining the scientific method and scholarly dialogue, and stifling creativity and innovation.



Iñaki Albisu Ardigó; Marie Chêne


Matthew Jenkins

Contributing experts:

Umrbek Allakulov (Water Integrity Network)

Shaazka Beyerle (US Institute of Peace)

Simone Bloem (Center for Applied Policy)

Claire Grandadam (Water Integrity Network)

Jacques Hallak (Jules Verne University – Amiens)

Mihaylo Milovanovitch (Centre For Applied Policy)

Muriel Poisson (International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP-UNESCO)

Juanita Riano (Inter-American Development Bank)

Marc Y. Tassé (Canadian Centre of Excellence for Anti-Corruption)

Vítězslav Titl (University of Siegen)

Davide Torsello (Central European University Business School)

Patty Zakaria (Royal Roads University)



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