Universities Face Cheating Scandal

Over 50,000 university students have been caught cheating at UK universities over the last three years, new figures suggest. Freedom of information data obtained by the Times found that international students were the highest proportion of so called ‘cheaters’, with Students from outside the EU four times more likely to cheat in exams and coursework essays.

Of the 70 universities that provided data on the nationality of those students caught cheating, international students made up 35% of all cheating cases, despite making up only 12% of the student body. At Queen Mary, University of London, 75% of postgraduates found plagiarising were from abroad, a third of which were from China. However, the figures obtained from 129 UK universities revealed that only 362 students were dismissed due to cheating allegations, making up just 1% of those found guilty of misconduct. Eleven institutions in total each found over 1,000 or more students guilty, with The University of Kent finding the highest number of student cheats, discovering 1,947 over the three year period.

Although a high proportion of cheating involves plagiarising existing essays and coursework, the new figures have also revealed that there were at least five cases of impersonation found, where students arranged for someone other than themselves to sit their exam for them. There has also been a rise in the use of professional essay writers, widely available on the internet. Unregulated websites such as these charge huge amounts of money for essays, dissertations and model answers written by academics right up to doctorate level. One website, called ‘UK Essays’, charges £839 for a 3000 word undergraduate essay graded as a first.

Due to the rise in essay producing sites such as the one mentioned above, the data produced from The Times investigation is likely to be a vast underestimation of the true numbers of students not producing their own work, with cheating figures likely to be much higher than the figures suggest. Professor Geoffrey Alderman of the University of Buckingham said: “What I’d call type-1 plagiarism, copying and pasting, is on the wane because it’s so easy to detect. But my impression is that type-2 cheating, using a bespoke essay-writing service, is increasing.”

The top five universities which caught the highest number guilty of misconduct are as follows:
• Kent 1,947
• Westminster 1,933
• East London 1,828
• Sheffield Hallam 1,740
• Oxford Brookes 1,711