City students cheat shame

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MORE than 800 students at Sheffield Hallam University were caught cheating in exams, essays and coursework last year - the second worst record in the country.

The figure has risen by 585 per cent over the last four years - in the academic year 2005-6, only 117 cases were recorded.

Hallam says one reason the figure is so high is that its checking systems are highly sophisticated and pick up many of the less serious cases.

Other universities in a new national survey were only able to report their most serious cases, placing them far lower down the league table.

A Hallam spokesman said: “As we are a large institution with more than 35,000 students, the figure of 801 represents only 2.3 per cent of our student body.”

Many of the cases involve plagiarism - students taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them on as their own.

The spokesman said: “We educate all students about plagiarism, and have sophisticated systems in place to help us to detect it. This means that we identify less serious cases, such as poor referencing, which make up the vast majority of these incidents.”

In their essays and dissertations students are required to provide a reference for every assertion, fact or claim they make to back up their work.

The spokesman added: “We rarely find serious cases of deliberate cheating through plagiarism, though we check for these just as carefully and if they are detected we treat the matter extremely seriously.”

The University of Sheffield only recorded 20 cases of cheating in the academic year 2009-10.

But a spokeswoman there said the figure related to only those cases deemed serious enough to go to a disciplinary committee for formal review.

“There may well be less serious cases which are handled at a departmental level,” she added.