Skip to main content

The higher education sector faces a complex array of fraud and corruption challenges. Administrators with an institution-wide perspective have a keen understanding of these, but in the broader university body there is an urgent need for an increase in this awareness.

The Ethicalways video-based microlearning series on fraud and corruption in higher education fills a gaping hole in the available learning content. The series is modelled on the proven generic Ethicalways Fraud Awareness Series, but its content is wholly oriented to the higher education context. From the terminology to the contexts that depict the university-specific instances of unethical activity, this is a series that both academic and administrative support staff will readily identify with.

Those who work in this sector know very well the resistance that can be experienced when using learning content originally developed for a corporate context. Our series ‘speaks higher education’ in every aspect of its look and feel. What’s more, it’s content is based on a sound research framework. This framework is the Typology of Corruption in Higher Education developed by Dr Monica Kirya (2019).

A six-part video-based series, our Recognising and Resisting Fraud and Corruption in Higher Education series takes your institution’s staff on a journey that holds up a mirror that many have not looked into. With each episode taking approximately five minutes to view, the total running time of the series is around just a half an hour. The scope of what is covered during these 30 minutes is remarkable, and by delivering one short video per day you can achieve maximum impact.

Here is an idea of the content of each five to six minute episode:

Episode 1 An introduction to corruption and its methods, including fraud

An introductory episode that sets the scene  and covers the definition of corruption and its five methods: abuse of position, bribery, blackmail, fraud and extortion. Leaves participants intrigued and interested in viewing the second episode. We pose the question of whether the higher education sector is more immune to unethical activity than other sectors. You can see a full preview version of Episode 1 here.

Episode 2

This episode introduces the research-based framework used in the series, and covers the first key area of fraud and corruption in higher education – political corruption. By the end of this episode participants appreciate that this is a series of direct relevance to them and their work in the higher education sector. Realising that the series leaves no stone unturned in calling out unethical activity in the higher education context, there is a high level of anticipation established for the episodes to follow. You can see a full preview version of Episode 2 here.

Episode 3

Administrative fraud and corruption is addressed in Episode 3. Starting with student selection and admissions and continuing through to research grant fraud, this wide-ranging episodes firmly establishes the higher education sector as one in which many different types of unethical activity can be taking place.

Episode 4

Academic fraud is the subject of Episode 4, and its many manifestations are covered. Plagiarism, examination fraud including leaks, hacking, cheating and bribery, research fraud and many other examples of academic and research related corruption are addressed.

Episode 5

An episode especially dedicated to sextortion – a form of corruption where the currency of the bribe is sex. The episode unpacks sextortion, showing that it can actually involve all five of the methods of corruption: abuse of position, bribery, blackmail, fraud and of course, extortion.

Episode 6

Corruption in higher education – the consequences and the cures – covers the range of adverse impacts that arise from unethical activity in the university context. From a decline in donor funding and high-calibre students to withdrawl of programme accreditation, this final episode packs a punch. It concludes with the steps that each university staff member needs to take – recognising, resisting and reporting suspicions and knowledge of unethical activity affecting the institution.


If this series does not add value to your higher education institution it would be suprising. Our hope is that it will make a significant positive impact!

To enquire about the cost of the series for your university, contact the Ethicalways Project Manager, Leanne Logan: and +27 (0)82 456 9967.


Corruption in universities: Paths to integrity in the higher education subsector (2019) written by Monica Kirya, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

Penny Milner-Smyth

Author Penny Milner-Smyth

More posts by Penny Milner-Smyth