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March 10, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Cheating on the rise

Victoria University has recorded the third highest number of plagiarism cases among the country’s eight universities in a recent report by the Education Review Office.

In 2007, Victoria University reported 96 cases. According to the Education Review, one third of these were dealt with informally and 46 were handled by heads of schools, while 14 were considered serious misconduct, going on to pro-vice-chancellors.

In 2006, there were 23 cases dealt with formally and only six were considered serious misconduct.

In total there were 683 cases of cheating and plagiarism reported at New Zealand universities in 2007. Auckland University of Technology recorded the highest number of cases, catching 228 of its 6000 business students cheating with another 41 students also caught cheating from other faculties.

The University of Waikato followed, with 184 reported cases and after Victoria were the University of Auckland, Otago University and Massey University.

Canterbury University reported the lowest number of cases, with only 8 incidents of cheating.

Victoria University’s Facilitator and Disputes Advisor, Jon Everest says that the figures do not accurately compare Victoria to other tertiary institutions.

“There is not a standardised method by which institutions detect instances of academic misconduct, and so the figures reported may simply reflect the University’s better systems for detecting and dealing with academic misconduct,” he explained.

The report stated that cheating levels at most universities were up in 2007 after several years of falling numbers.

In contrast to other universities’ reports of cheating, taking notes into exams, fabrication of research data and collaborating with others, Victoria University statistics showed a large proportion of plagiarism cases.

Most lecturers at Victoria University use the computer database turnitin.com to monitor assessments and to pick up cases of plagiarism. In 2006, the University also established an Academic Misconduct Register help with the process of recording misconduct.

Student Learning Support Services’ Learning Adviser Deborah Laurs would not comment on any cases of plagiarism at the University saying that such matters “remain confidential between the university and the student concerned.”

However, she added: “To be formally charged with serious misconduct (which may mean being barred from re-enrolling), a student would have to have plagiarised a significant amount of material (very often downloaded straight from the web), with the deliberate intent of passing it off as their own thoughts. Such behaviour is not the sort of graduate attribute any academic institution – or employer – would want.”

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