A plagiarism scandal has rocked the office of the Romanian Prime Minister. According to the Associated Press (2012), Victor Ponta stands accused of plagiarizing part of his 2004 doctoral thesis. Nature, a science publication, stated that an anonymous tipster offered papers that reveal that over half of the thesis was plagiarized. The Nature article was written by Quirin Schiermeier, who was concerned about the reputation of science born in Romania (McLaughlin, 2012). Ponta’s thesis, on the International Criminal Court, is said to have been partially written from work previously published by two law scholars, also from Romania (Associated Press, 2012). The Associated Press (2012) quoted Mr. Ponta as saying: ‘“The only reproach I have is that I did not list authors at the bottom of each page, but put them in the bibliography at the end. If this is a mistake, then I am willing to pay for it”’(para.1). Ponta said that he would not resign.
The Prime Minister has only been in office less than two months and plagiarism is the hottest topic on his agenda. His education minister was accused of copying material in a book that he wrote about Romania. The second education minister also resigned under similar circumstances.
Mutler (2012) reported that some Romanian citizens wonder if these accusations are the result of a political vendetta. A contributing factor may be that university degrees have become increasingly important for societal stature since the fall of communism in that country (Mutler, 2012).
Academic plagiarism is commonplace in Romania. Communism fell in 1989, at which time Romania pursued a free market, replete with new institutions of higher learning (Mutler, 2012). In the country, cheating is not unusual, and teachers are said to take bribes regularly. Others believe that degrees can be bought. Medical school cheating is especially troublesome as doctors may not actually have the education they need to practice medicine effectively (Mutler, 2012). This fact raises serious questions about any degree “earned” in Romania.
Recently, other European politicians have been accused of plagiarism. One of these high-profile officials was Karl-Theodore zu Guttenburgh, the former German Defense Minister. The other was ex-Hungarian President, Pal Schmitt. With politicians and scholars being accused of cheating and plagiarizing, and misconduct being a standard way of life in certain cultures, it raises the question about what needs to happen in order for students to change old ways and start learning about academic integrity.
Written by Beth Calvano
McLaughlin, D. (2012, June 20). Romanian PM rejects plagiarism claim. Retrieved from http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2012/0620/1224318256756.html
Mutler, A. (2012, June 20). Romania PM ensnared in plagiarism scandal. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hAJfLzt-x1pRx9l3QO-m2wqDiZyA?docId=20cf1c55604a4a549128ad470e1a8acd
The Associated Press. (2012, June 20). Romania: Plagiarism scandal ensnares prime minister. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/20/world/europe/romania-plagiarism-scandal-ensnares-prime-minister.html?_r=1