Academic corruption

Any prescribed action taken in connection with an examination or test that attempts to gain unfair advantage. Beyond examination or test issues, it covers malpractices related to credentials, diplomas, research, academic journals and publications, admission to universities and accreditation fraud.

Example: Bias in the admissions or grading process; plagiarism.


Official examination of an organization or institution's accounts to make sure money has been spent correctly, i.e. according to rules, regulations and norms.

 Example: Audits of ministries of education, universities or schools; financial audits, audits of teacher management or of procurement procedures (e.g. textbooks).

Capture (or leakage)

Illegal use of public resources and therefore lack of resources for the intended purpose.

 Example: Capture of school funds at local administrative level.

Conflict of interest

A situation where an individual or the entity for which they work, whether a government, business, media outlet or civil society organization, is confronted with having to choose between the duties and demands of their position and their own private interests.

Example: When a university professor sits in a selection jury and at the same time provides private tutoring lessons to candidates.


The abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Corruption can be classified as grand, petty or political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.

 Corruption in education can be defined as the systematic use of public office for private benefit, whose impact is significant on the availability and quality of educational goods and services, and, as a consequence on access, quality or equity in education.

Degree mills or diploma mills

Dubious providers of educational offerings or operations that offer certificates and degrees that are considered bogus.

 Corruption in education can be defined as the systematic use of public office for private benefit, whose impact is significant on the availability and quality of educational goods and services, and, as a consequence on access, quality or equity in education.


When a person holding office in an institution, organization or company dishonestly and illegally appropriates, uses or traffics the funds and goods they have been entrusted with for personal enrichment or other activities.

 Example: Educational funds used for political campaigns.


Based on core values and norms, a set of standards for conduct in government, companies and society that guide decisions, choices and actions.

 There is a relationship between ethics in education and ethical education: in order to create a favourable environment for the teaching of ethics and values, it is critical to ensure integrity and limit unethical behaviour within the educational sector.

Examination fraud

Cheating or swindling in the following levels of the examination process: design of exams, admission to exam, marking of results and admission of successful candidates to the next education level. It includes also the selling of exam questions.


Unlawful demand or receipt of property or money through the use of force or threat. A typical example of extortion would be when armed police or military men exact money for passage through a roadblock. Synonyms include blackmail, bloodsucking and extraction.


The practice of giving unfair preferential treatment to one person or group at the expense of another. Inclination to prefer acquaintances, friends and family over strangers. When public officials demonstrate favouritism to unfairly distribute positions and resources, they are guilty of cronyism or nepotism, depending on their relationship with the person who benefits.

Example: Recruitment of administrators based on their membership of a political party.


Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial, political or personal gain.

Example: Ghost teachers, diploma mills and accreditation mills.

Ghost worker

Draws salary but does not work.

 Example: Ghost teachers.


Adherence to a set of moral or ethical principles.


Favouritism granted to relatives.

Example: Leakage of exam questions by paper setters in favour of someone in their family.

Petty corruption

Petty, bureaucratic, or administrative corruption takes place at the implementation end of politics, where the public meets public officials. Petty corruption is usually distinguished from “grand" and political corruption. It usually involves smaller amounts of money, but the damage may be significant in social terms.


Example: Illegal fees paid by parents to get their children admitted to schools, to be promoted or to pass their exams.


Quality of being clear, honest and open. As a principle, transparency implies that civil servants, managers and trustees have a duty to act visibly, predictably and understandably. Sufficient information must be available so that other agencies and the general public can assess whether the relevant procedures are followed, consonant with the given mandate. Transparency is considered an essential element of accountable governance, leading to improved resource allocation, enhanced efficiency, and better prospects for economic growth.

Extent to which stakeholders (school principals, school councils, parents, pupils and the local community) can understand the basis on which educational resources (financial, material and human resources) are allocated to their individual establishment and how they are used.


People who inform the public or the authorities about corrupt transactions they have witnessed or uncovered.