The case dates back to the last century, but is nevertheless making a lot of noise in 2021. According to an article by reporter.lu, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (DP) plagiarized a lot of his work during the completion of his postgraduate degree in public law and political science at the University of Nancy in 1999.
Bettel was keen to clarify matters today. “More than 20 years ago, I wrote my dissertation as part of a DEA, which was assessed and recognised by the University of Nancy-II. As I recall, I wrote this work with a clear conscience at that time,” he said. “From today's point of view, I recognise that I could - yes, perhaps should - have done it differently. I have full confidence in the University of Nancy to assess whether the work in question meets the criteria of the time. If it does not, I naturally accept a corresponding decision in this sense."
University confirms it will investigate
The University of Lorraine has confirmed that it intends to investigate the matter. “The possible sanctions that the establishment may impose will depend on the conclusions of the investigation which will now be carried out. "
But the university says it is not in a position right now to comment on the case, which "require verification". It also points out that Bettel’s paper was "one of the building blocks of the diploma and cannot be compared to a university thesis".
In its defense, the university says that “more than twenty years ago, universities were not equipped with current anti-plagiarism software which is of precious help in the detection of plagiarism but is not in itself sufficient to qualify it.”
In France this post-graduate course was once considered to be the first year of a doctoral thesis, although this was never really the case.
As we reported earlier, according to reporter.lu, 96% of the pages in the 56-page thesis do not indicate sources, large passages of which are reproduced identically. Reporter.lu says the document was analysed at length by independent researchers - who were not named - who confirmed "an acute suspicion of plagiarism".
And if the form is problematic, the substance also seems to raise difficulties. “The analysis contained in the book is not in-depth and in principle contains nothing new,” says political scientist Nicolas Sauger.
I have full confidence in the University of Nancy to assess whether the work in question meets the criteria of the time.
Professor Etienne Criqui, who supervised the work, does not rule out the possibility of plagiarism, but points out that the means of detection at the time were different, as were the ethical standards, and that Bettel's work received an honourable rating from the academic community.
This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.