Hundreds of Edinburgh university students caught cheating in exams

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More than 600 students at an Edinburgh university have been disciplined for cheating in exams and course work during the last two academic years.

The number of cheating students at the University of Edinburgh is on the rise – a trend labelled as “very worrying” by a political party.

Statistics revealed in a freedom of information request found that during the 2015/16 academic year, 261 students, including 162 undergraduates and 99 postgraduates, were disciplined by university bosses for misconduct. In the 2016/17 academic year, the number of cheats increased to 342 – including 195 undergraduates.

During the last two years, 314 students from the university’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences were caught cheating, along with 71 from the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and 218 from the College of Science and Engineering.

A spokesman from the University of Edinburgh said: “The university takes academic misconduct very seriously and it is committed to ensuring incidents of academic misconduct are detected and the university’s academic procedure is followed.

“The total number of academic misconduct cases involves a very small proportion of the student population each year.”

A total of 214 students were disciplined for plagiarism in 2015/16, compared to 275 people caught for the offence 
in 2016/17. In 2015/16, 41 people were disciplined for collusion, along with 57 last year. During the last two academic years, 11 students were disciplined for cheating, four for falsification, six for failing to comply with exam hall regulations as well as four for self-plagiarism.

The university defines plagiarism as the presentation of another person’s work as your own, while collusion is an unauthorised and unattributed collaboration of students submitting a piece of assessed work. Cheating is defined as any attempt to obtain or give assistance in an examination or an assessment, including submitting work which is not your own.

It was also revealed that in 2015/16, 109 students were handed a formal warning and mark penalties, 119 were given mark penalties and 23 received a formal warning. In the last academic year, 165 students received a mark penalty, 27 were handed a formal warning while 138 students received both penalties. In each of the last two academic years, 10 students were given a reprimand, while no further action was taken against two students for misconduct last year.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Clearly any form of misconduct at university is unacceptable.

“It is up to individual universities to take forward the appropriate disciplinary action and we encourage them to put robust measures in place to guard against cheating.”

The Conservatives also believe universities should take more responsibility. A Scottish Conservatives spokesman said: “This increase in cheating is very worrying and damages the reputation of the university.

“All education institutions must do their utmost to tackle cheating and ensure tough penalties are in place to deter students from trying it.”