Plagiarism levels in Cardiff University revealed

Photographer: Alberto G

Plagiarism levels at Cardiff University have seen a slight increase, according to the results of an Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The statistics have been revealed amidst a larger investigation examining the increase in cheating across UK universities, described by The Independent as a “plagiarism epidemic”.

In the academic year 2014-15, 283 cases of academic misconduct in Cardiff were recorded, a slight increase from the 268 case from 2013-14.

Of those 283, 199 students were found to be guilty of plagiarism compared to 83 people who allegedly cheated in exams, often by possessing notes or mobile phones.

According to the statistics, students were most commonly awarded a score of zero for the assessment in question and were required to sit a study skills course. The second most popular form of punishment was giving those guilty an ‘informal warning letter’ for those who continued to write after the end of an exam.

Other cases saw students lose all marks for the module affected, and the issue of a ‘formal reprimand’.

During one case where a dissertation was plagiarised, a recommendation was made to the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Colin Riordan, advising that the student should be disqualified from any further examinations.

The latest levels match statistics recorded back in 2012, where 280 people were found to be misbehaving. This includes examples of students guilty of “suspicious behaviour”, “collusion”, and “alleged talking during an examination”.

In the latest results, approximately 67 per cent of those caught cheating were undergraduates, whilst 33 per cent were postgraduates from taught programmes and 0.35 per cent from postgraduate research courses.

Of those who stated their gender, 54 per cent of students identified as male and 44 per cent identified as female.

In a UK-wide investigation, the universities of Kent, Westminster and East London were found to have the most examples of academic misconduct, with the highest number of students found cheating resting at 1,947 cases compared to Cardiff’s total score of 828.

Indeed, with only one per cent of the population of Cardiff students found to be guilty of academic misconduct, a spokesperson described the figures as “consistent” and showing “no significant rises”.

According to academics, in general the most common types of plagiarism is no longer attributed to copying and pasting from other sources but rather using services described as “bespoke essay-writing” companies.

The study also found that non-EU students were more likely found to be guilty of plagiarism, as 35 per of all cases were attributed to international students despite constituting only 12 per cent of the student population.

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