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Corporate Sponsorship and Academic Integrity

At present, the issue of corporate sponsorship in the sphere of education is highly debatable. Post-secondary educational institutions accept the offerings of large business corporations because of prestigious funding they obtain (Fleisher 436). However, instead of bringing benefits to the public sector, corporate sponsorship seems to be of more harm to it. These days, “corporate sponsors place their logos on new schools, boards of education sell advertising space on school buses and the media praise the inspired corporate leadership that forces schools to operate more like businesses” (Robertson 116). This is not the worst in this situation. Despite the idea that corporate influence on universities leads to better academic integrity (The Facts about Post-Secondary Education 2), corporate sponsorship considerably redirects the educational policy with schools involved in sponsorships having to alter their educational practices. This is of absolutely no benefit for the students, which is why this issue has recently become ever-concerning. Commercial takeover of public education poses threat to the academic integrity of post-secondary institutions because it leads to students’ neglecting the instructions given to them by their teachers, results in modifying the curriculum and educational objectives, and narrows the students’ minds.

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What should be mentioned above all is that corporate sponsorship is of great threat to the academic integrity of the educational establishments because its influence contradicts directly to what is taught to students. This largely concerns the issue of healthy eating which is paid much attention to at schools. Numerous fast food companies often use the student market to promote their products for the students who are the target population of the fast food advertising. Either school or college students are often pressed for time. This is why eating out in the fast food restaurants is typical for them. This, however, has benefits only for the fast food companies, because the use of the student market for such purposes significantly interrupts academic integrity at schools where the students are instructed on a healthy lifestyle: “Where school and college students used to eat well-balanced meals prepared by nutritionists and students in cooking and catering programs, they now have their choice of empty calories provided by McDonalds, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and the like” (Public Education: Not for Sale para. 29). The teachers’ instructions seem to be of no value to the students in the light of commercialism; in addition, unhealthy eating deteriorates the students’ health, which is even more harm. In this way, corporate sponsorship has a harmful influence not only on the students’ education, but on their health as well since consuming the products which are served in the fast food restaurants is extremely harmful. This all shows that the public factor has absolutely no benefits from such private projects; this is why “educators, students, parents, administrators and the general public [should] work together to stop, and ultimately reverse the commercial takeover of public education” (Public Education: Not for Sale para. 35). Therefore, corporate sponsorship leads to neglecting the instructions which the students obtain from their teachers thus threatening academic integrity of schools and colleges.

In addition, commercial takeover of public education intrudes into curriculum and redirects educational policies, which is of a great threat to academic integrity. Education has always been regarded as a non-for-profit sector and, under the increasing effects of corporate sponsorship, it has to redesign its curriculum and become more profit-oriented: “Under these rules, cherished educational goals, such as attempting to reduce the social and economic marginalization of certain groups of students, are allowed to proceed only if they can be shown to be good return-on-investment propositions” (Robertson 117). This results in describing the educational goals in a more vague language; since not all the goals can be aligned with economically functionalist perspective, some of them are simply left behind. The effect of the changes in the educational goals on the curriculum is inevitable; consequently, if the curriculum is changed, this influences students’ academic achievements and lead to the educational establishments having to discard “not only less “productive” curriculum components, such as the Arts, but also less “productive” students” (Robertson 118). The curriculum formed as a result of all these changes started paying more attention to the use of technology, entrepreneurship, and business English. Thus, for instance, a school reform in Ontario led to reduce the course hours in favor of a jobs-for-credit component which was expected to teach the students to work in teams and to acquire certain job skills. Instead, however, the real value of such a reform consisted in its reducing corporate taxes: “The Government had just introduced a “cooperative education tax credit” that would allow cooperating private sector employers to write-off up o $1,000 per student placement” (Robertson 124). Thus, corporate sponsorship leads to changing the curriculum for the worse due to redesigned goals of the educational institutions.

Finally, corporate sponsorship narrows the minds of students, which impedes proper maintaining of academic integrity. Commercial takeover of public education leads to the educational establishments starting to give students business education, which results in narrowing the minds of the students, as well as limiting their career opportunities:

If he [the student] is immediately initiated into the mysteries of these institutions themselves, if he is sworn in infancy to take them as seriously as they take themselves, if he becomes a trader not only before he becomes a traveler, but even before he becomes a true citizen of his own town, he will never be able to denounce those institutions – or even to improve them. (Robertson 116)

Several decades ago the educational establishments used to offer the students an incalculable number of career opportunities ranging from industrial to technical ones. These days, however, more and more colleges and universities offer their students business education because most of them are sponsored by large organizations which have their own terms for accepting students for job after their graduation. Of course, the number of business fields in which students may work after obtaining such education is great, but the students’ knowledge is limited to what they know about a particular business sphere. With every day corporate sponsorship contributes into the students’ becoming narrow-minded for they see no possibilities except for those in business sphere. Narrowing students’ minds concerns not only their future careers but present studies as well. Commercial takeover resulted in their being limited in the ways of gaining knowledge. Being not aware of this, the institutions themselves started promoting commercialism. Aiming at constructing safety walls to protect their students from the negative influences of popular culture, schools, colleges, and universities contradict to themselves: “For example, despite fears about the violence, hatred and sexual content on the Internet, schools are requiring that students complete assignments using the Internet” (Public Education: Not for Sale para. 21). This means that, once affected by corporate sponsorship, the students lost their abilities of searching information in the libraries, which they did some time ago, and started using technological advancements to assist them in their studies. This led to them being unable to perform certain tasks without a computer or Internet connection; with respect to this problem, corporate sponsorship limited the students’ abilities to find the way out of the critical situation. The students’ minds became narrowed for they either do not see other careers than those in business or cannot survive without modern technologies for they got used that the Internet is their problem-solver. In this way, apart from business education which limits the students’ career opportunities, commercial takeover disrupts academic integrity through depriving the students of possibilities to apply their critical thinking to the situations where searching for a way out is required.

Drawing a conclusion, it can be stated that corporate sponsorship is indeed of great threat to academic integrity for there are a number of ways in which it can disrupt it. Educational institutions commercialization has resulted in using the students for marketing plans of large corporations, which not only destructs the students from their studies, but can even affect their health. Thus, fast food promotion in the educational institutions leads to neglecting the teachers’ instructions on the healthy lifestyle and harms the students’ health. In addition, commercial takeover changes educational policies and makes the curriculum more business-oriented. This further results in narrowing students’ minds due to the limited career opportunities which their educational institutions offer to them and possibilities which the effects of commercial takeover leave. This all shows that corporate sponsorship is non-beneficial for academic integrity.

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Works Cited

Fleisher, Craig. “The State of North American Higher Education in Corporate Public Affairs.” Journal of Public Affairs 1.1. (2001): 436-440.

“Public Education: Not for Sale.” Conference Sponsored by the Coalition for Public Education (2001). B.C. Teachers’ Federation. Web.

Robertson, Heather-Jane. Public Education in a Corporate Dominated Culture. Netherlands: Springer, 2005.

Szuchewycz, Bohdan and Sloniowki, Jeannette. “Advertising in Canada: Kidstuff.” (p.p.338-355) in Canadian Communications: Issues in Contemporary Media and Culture, 2nd Edition. Toronto, ON: Prentie Hall Allyn and Bacon Canada, 2001.

The Facts about Post-Secondary Education. Canadian Federation of Students, 2006.

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