Almost 3,000 students have been caught cheating in coursework and exams at Sheffield Hallam University in the last five years – the highest number in the region.
The university now requires students to remove watches and ditch their mobile phones before exams as part of a major crackdown on cheating. The institution is also looking at how it can combat the use of hidden earpieces and wireless Bluetooth devices.
A total of 2,799 students have been caught cheating in their coursework at the university in the last five years – with online plagiarism being listed as the main cause.
A spokesman for the university, which saw 162 pupils cheat in exams during the same period, said: “We tackle plagiarism through a combination of education, presentations and sanctions.
"We educate all students about plagiarism, providing advice and guidance to students on how to maintain academic conduct, particularly for those who are new to study at a UK university.
“We use text-matching services which are integrated within our Virtual Learning Environment. These show the percentage of a submission that matches other sources, including the internet, a range of electronic journals and its database of existing student papers from subscribing UK institutions.
“We also keep ahead of technologies and physical malpractice in the exam hall.
“We require students to remove their watches and place them in a plastic box under their desk along with their mobile phone during exams, and are currently assessing measures to protect against wireless earpieces and Bluetooth devices.”
The spokesman stressed that the university rarely found serious cases of deliberate cheating through plagiarism, although robust checks for this are in place and if detected the matter is treated “extremely seriously”.
“We have in place a range of sanctions for genuine plagiarism,” he said.
The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, showed cheating is most prevalent in coursework – since 2012 a total of 7,673 students in Yorkshire have been caught out.
The figures were lower when it came to exams – 403 cheated – with mobile phones causing the most problems.