A Perception-based Investigation on Corruption in Higher Education: Evidence from the Republic of Moldova

Victoria Butmalai, Liu Qijun


The study sheds light on the phenomenon of corruption in the Republic of Moldova's Higher Education System. It provides tangible evidence that corruption in the university environment isn't a merely unfounded rumor but a sad reality, sometimes challenging to capture and even more difficult to change. The research, exploratory in its nature, has thoroughly examined and analyzed the perceptions of the main education actors directly involved in the academic processes in order to discover the extent and the different facets of educational corruption and provide recommendations for preventing and opposing the phenomenon.

To empirically understand the roots and dimensions of corruption in Moldova's higher education, the adopted methodology was based on two approaches: qualitative and quantitative.

The qualitative part of the study, representing as well the preparatory basis for the quantitative approach, was conducted in two stages combining individual interviews and focus groups with the participation of the main educational stakeholders, namely: professors, students, and administrative officials. The quantitative phase included a broad survey based on three questionnaires executed on a sample of 671 respondents. The sample was composed of professors, students, and administrative personnel. The survey results show that for the three categories of actors directly involved in university life, corruption is a common phenomenon, seriously harming the image of the Moldovan universities and endangering the processes of human capital formation. The causes of corruption find their roots in the ineffective human and procedural management within the Higher Education system, Moldovan culture, and various educational actors' behaviors.

Full Text:



Altbach, P. (2004). The question of corruption in academe. International Higher Education, 34, 7-8. https://doi.org/10.6017/ihe.2004.34.7399

Bardhan, P. (1997). Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues. Journal of Economic Literature, 35(3), 1320-1346. Retrieved January 4, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2729979

Blackburn, K., Bose, N., & Haque, M. E. (2002). Endogenous Corruption in Economic Development. Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research Discussion Paper Series, 22. Economics, The University of Manchester.

Cabelkova, I., & Hanousek, J. (2004). The power of negative thinking: corruption, perception, and willingness to bribe in Ukraine. Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(4), pp. 383-397. https://doi.org/10.1080/00036840410001674303

Campbell, N., & Saha, S. (2013). Corruption, democracy, and Asia-Pacific countries. Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, 18(2), 290-303. https://doi.org/10.1080/13547860.2013.778156

Chapman, D. (2002). Sectoral perspective on corruption: Corruption and the education sector. MSI. Available online at http://millenniumchallengecorporation.net/ our_work/democracy _and_governance/publications/ac/sector/education.doc

Creswell, J. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. Los Angeles: Sage.

Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Everhart, S., Vazquez, J. M., & McNab, R. M. (2009). Corruption, governance, investment, and growth in emerging markets. Applied Economics, 41(13). https://doi.org/10.1080/00036840701439363

Frimpong, K., & Jacques, G. (1999). Corruption, Democracy and Good Governance in Africa: Essays on Accountability and Ethical Behavior. LightbooksLtd, Botswana.

Hallak, J., & Poisson, M. (2009). Ecoles Corrompues, Universités Corrompues: Que Faire? Ed Unesco, 358 p. https://doi.org/10.1086/524367

Heyneman, S. P. (2002), Education and Corruption, Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), November 20, Sacramento, CA. Available at: http://pdc.ceu.hu/archive/00004170/01/EducCorrupt.pdf.

Heyneman, S. P. (2004). Education and Corruption. International Journal of Educational Development, 24, 637- 648. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2004.02.005

Heyneman, S. P., Anderson, K., & Nuralieva, N. (2007) The cost of Corruption in Higher Education. Comparative Education Review, 52(1), 2-25. Available online at https://etico.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/Heyneman.2008.CostsofCorruption.pdf

International Republican Institute (IRI), (2019). Public Opinion Survey: Residents of Moldova. Available online at https://www.iri.org/sites/default/files/iri_poll_-_december _2019_ for_publishing.pdf.

Institute for Public Policy (IPP), (2018). Ethics and academic integrity in schools. Informal payments. A sociologic study, MD - Chisinau 2018. Available online at https://ipp.md/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/7.-Etica-si-integritatea-academica.pdf

Johnston, M. (1996). The search for definitions: The vitality of politics and the issue of corruption. International social science journal, 48, 321-335. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2451.00035

Kalnins, V. (2001). Latvia's Anti-corruption Policy: Problems and Prospects. Riga: Soros Foundation. https://liia.lv/site/attachments/17/01/2012/Kaln_kor_liel_EN.pdf

Kaufmann, D., Montoriol-Garriga, J., & Recanatini, F. (2008). How does bribery affect public service delivery? Micro evidence from service users and public officials in Peru. World Bank Institute: Global Programs Group. https://doi.org/10.1596/1813-9450-4492

León, C., Araña, J., & De León, J. (2013). Correcting for Scale Perception Bias in Measuring Corruption: An Application to Chile and Spain. Social Indicators Research, 114(3), 977-995. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-012-0185-7

Melgar, N., Rossi, M., & Smith. (2010). The perception of corruption. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 22, 120 – 131. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edp058

Milovanovitch, M. (2014). Fighting Corruption in Education: A Call for Sector Integrity Standards. World Bank Legal Rev., 5, 367. https://doi.org/10.1596/978-1-4648-0037-5_ch19

Mishler, W. (2008). Seeing Is Not Always Believing: Measuring Corruption Perceptions and Experiences. Available online at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication /242111254_Seeing_Is_Not_Always_Believing_Measuring_Corruption_Perceptions_and_Experiences.

Mitchell, R. C., & Carson, R. T. (1989). Using Surveys to Value Public Goods: The Contingent Valuation Method. Resources for the Future, Washington DC.

Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, (2002). The Spirit of Laws. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

National Bureau of Statistics of the Republic of Moldova. (2019). Education in the Republic of Moldova. https://statistica.gov.md/newsview.php?l=ro&idc=168&id=6547

Neuman, W. L. (2014). Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (7th ed.). Essex: Pearson. Available at: http://letrunghieutvu.yolasite.com/resources/w-lawrence-neuman-social-research-methods_-qualitative-and-quantitative-approaches-pearson-education-limited-2013.pdf

Olken, B. A., & Pande, R. (2012). Corruption in Developing Countries. Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, 4(1), 479-509. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-economics-080511-110917

Osipian, A. L. (2009). Corruption and reform in higher education in Ukraine. Canadian and International Education/Education canadienne et internationale, 38(2), 104-122. https://doi.org/10.5206/cie-eci.v38i2.9139

Palmier, L. (1983). Bureaucratic Corruption and Its Remedies. in Clark, M. (ed.), Corruption: Causes, Consequences, and Control, Pinter, London.

Ross, L. (1977). The Intuitive Psychologist and His Shortcomings: Distortions in the Attribution Process. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.). Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. New York: Academic Press, 173-220. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60357-3

Rumyantseva, N. (2005). Taxonomy of Corruption in Higher Education. Peabody Journal of Education, 80(1), 81-92. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327930pje8001_5

Shleifer, A., & Vishny, R. W. (1993). Corruption. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 108(3), 599-617. https://doi.org/10.3386/w4372

Tanzi, V., & Davoodi, H. (1997). Corruption, public investment, and growth. International Monetary Fund. Working Paper No. WP/97/139. https://doi.org/10.5089/9781451929515.001

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2008). A users' guide to measuring corruption, UNDP Oslo Governance Centre.

Urra, F. J. (2007). Assessing corruption: An analytical review of corruption measurement and its problem: Perception, error, and utility. Available online at http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/APCITY/UNPAN028792.pdf.

Waite, D., & Allen, D. (2003). Corruption and abuse of power in educational administration. Urban Review, 35(4). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:URRE.0000017531.73129.4f

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jpag.v11i1.18280

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Journal of Public Administration and Governance  ISSN 2161-7104

Copyright © Macrothink Institute

'Macrothink Institute' is a trademark of Macrothink Institute, Inc.

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the 'macrothink.org' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.