Edition 86 - June 2008

Plagiarism plagues UK universities

According to the results of the second phase of the UK Academic Misconduct Benchmarking Research Project (AMBeR), rates of student plagiarism and the severeness of penalties applied seem to be linked to the type of institution. Larger universities with less selective admissions policies tend to have higher rates of student plagiarism and apply less severe penalties than their more selective counterparts. The study, the first of its kind in the UK, was conducted by the Academy JISC Academic Integrity Service (AJAIS). The results of the survey, which somprised 93 higher education institutions in the UK, suggest that theres are three main categories of universities when separated by their plagiarism policies.

The first group is dominated by large, less selective universities. The rate of plagiarism recorded was twice as great (1.04 %) as among the second group, dominated by smaller, low-income institutions (0.51 %). The third group, the predominantly large, more selective, research-intensive universities had a rate of 0.66 per cent. Use of penalties that were more likely to seriously affect the student also varied notably. Among the smaller, low-income institutions, tougher penalties, like suspension, grade penalties and expulsion, were used to deal with just 1.2 per cent of cases compared with 14 per cent among the less selective universities, and 19.7 per cent among the more selective universities. In the second group, the expulsion was low - 0.3 per cent, whereas it reached 4 per cent at less selective universities and 8 per cent at more selective universities.

In the 93 institutions that took part in the survey, a total of 9 229 cases were recorded in one year and 143 students were expelled.

The Higher Education Academy

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