China’s proposed degree law: the use of artificial intelligence to write dissertations and other illegal behaviors

The draft law on academic degrees was submitted to the Standing Committee of the 28th National People’s Congress for deliberation on 28 August. The draft stipulates corresponding legal liabilities for degree recipients who steal or fraudulently use other people’s identities to obtain admission qualifications on behalf of others, use artificial intelligence to write dissertations, and illegally award degrees by degree-granting institutions.

The draft consists of 7 articles in 40 chapters, including general provisions, degree management system, acquisition of degree awarding authority, degree awarding conditions, degree awarding procedures, degree quality assurance and supervision, and supplementary provisions.

The draft clarifies that if a person who has obtained a degree has any of the following circumstances in the process of obtaining the degree, the degree awarding unit shall revoke the degree certificate after deliberation and decision of the degree evaluation committee: there are academic misconduct such as plagiarism, plagiarism, forgery, data fraud, artificial intelligence ghostwriting and other academic misconduct in the dissertation or practical achievements; Stealing or fraudulently using another person’s identity, substituting for the admission qualifications obtained by others, or obtaining the entrance qualification or graduation certificate by illegal means such as favoritism and fraud; There are other violations of laws and regulations during the study period that should not be awarded.

The draft stipulates that if acts such as stealing or fraudulently using another person’s identity or substituting for another person’s higher education admission qualification, which constitutes a crime, criminal responsibility shall be pursued in accordance with law.

In terms of the conditions for awarding degrees, the draft requires that bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree recipients must reach the corresponding academic or professional level, and honorary doctoral degree recipients need to contribute to specific fields; Degree-granting units are required to formulate specific standards for the awarding of degrees on the basis of the statutory conditions for the conferment of degrees.

In terms of improving the procedures for awarding degrees, the draft stipulates that applicants for bachelor’s degrees will be reviewed by the Degree Assessment Committee and make a decision on whether to award degrees; After applying for master’s and doctoral degrees, after passing the procedures of peer expert review and defense, the degree evaluation committee will organize the review and make a decision on whether to award the degree; The conferral of honorary doctorate degrees shall be deliberated and approved by the Degree Evaluation Committee and submitted to the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council for approval.

The draft also clarifies that the resolution of degree conferral disputes should be improved to protect the legitimate rights and interests of all parties. If the degree applicant is dissatisfied with the relevant degree awarding decision, he or she may apply to the degree awarding unit for review; Those who are still dissatisfied with the review decision may appeal to the provincial degree committee. (End)

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