Technology helps to trap the cheats

CHEAT-seeking technology is today being praised for a huge drop in the number of students trying to con their way to a qualification.

SUFFOLK: Cheat-seeking technology is today being praised for a huge drop in the number of students trying to con their way to a qualification.

New figures have revealed that 29 students at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) have been caught cheating over the last two years.

Four were thrown off their courses for grave misconduct such as plagiarism, copying other students and falsifying data. Others failed modules, or components of them, and were handed written warnings.

But the number of offences has fallen nearly 50 per cent between the 2007/08 and 2008/09 academic years.

Bosses at the university said this was down to awareness of new plagiarism-detection software, which has been brought in over the last year. The software uses the internet to check whether submitted work contains chunks of unattributed passages.

Jennifer Mackness, an academic registrar at UCS who interviews students accused of cheating, said: “The big issue nationally is that students have been able to access material via the internet. We increasingly require students to submit work electronically so we can run it through the software. If you cheat you are likely to be caught out.”

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The figures, released after a Freedom of Information Act request, show there were 19 students reprimanded in 2007/08, the first academic year since the university's inception.

One person had their studies terminated after falsifying data in a project. Two others were struck off for using “grave unacknowledged quotations” from published texts.

Two failed their year and a further two had their module scrapped for copying another student, while four failed their module for a serious act of plagiarism.

In 2008/09, the total figure had dropped to just 10, with one student having their studies terminated and another withdrawing after grave misdemeanours.

Ms Mackness said: “We take the issue very seriously, but we try to be fair. We don't want to ruin someone's life chances because of their stupidity.”

Is enough being done to prevent cheating? Have you been caught before and want to warn others? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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