HIGHER EDUCATION

UNC Pushed Fake Classes, Inflated Grades

For nearly two decades, UNC-Chapel Hill has pushed a bogus “shadow curriculum” consisting of classes that required no attendance and artificially inflated grades for students, an investigation found. Nearly 3,100 students benefited from the easy courses, half of them athletes. "I think it's very clear that this is an academic, an athletic and a university problem," chancellor Carol Folt said. Former high-ranking Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein released a report on Wednesday revealing far more extensive academic fraud than previous probes had uncovered at the university. The Department of African and Afro-American Studies, for instance, had courses that required only a single research paper that was reviewed minimally and given an A or B, regardless. Retired office administrator Deborah Crowder and former department chairman Julius Nyang'oro are blamed for designing a curriculum with an eye for “watered-down requirements” and an “eye to boosting grades,” according to the report. Faculty and administration officials were also criticized in the report for missing or ignoring red flags indicating the academic fraud. The NCAA began investigating UNC-Chapel Hill for academic fraud in 2010 and it was banned from post-season play and slapped with scholarship reductions in 2012.