Statistics emanating from Freedom of Information requests have revealed that cheating during exams and plagiarism on coursework assignments is rife at the University of Aberdeen. The information released from the requests have revealed that 304 people have been caught plagiarising coursework in the last five years, with 49 cases of cheating during exams. While this may be surprising, it is also worth considering that this accounts for a very small proportion of students at Aberdeen.
Plagiarism during coursework usually takes the form of copying information from the internet, with some unbelievable cases witnessing students literally copying and pasting information into an assignment. The University uses software to identify when people are cheating. Cheating in exams takes a range of forms, such as smuggling in notes, concealing crucial information in unexpected places. It isn’t as commonplace as plagiarism, due to how difficult it can be to cheat in an exam.
The figures above do come as somewhat of a surprise. 304 people over five academic years equates to approximately 61 students per year. The University has a small population, but despite this the cases clearly affect a small proportion of students. These figures however don’t include those that successfully gained an unfair advantage (i.e. those who got away with cheating). While difficult to escape, plagiarism is always possible due to flaws in software systems, while cheating in an exam is possible.
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A spokesman for the University said that they take a ‘firm’ approach towards cheating and plagiarism, and follow a code of practice. Students also have access to guidance on avoiding plagiarism, which helps to raise awareness. It appears though that largely, students at Aberdeen behave well, and most pass through University without plagiarising or cheating during exams. It appears that due to the low proportion of students involved in plagiarism and cheating, that it isn’t as big a problem as seen at other Universities.