Academic misconduct increases by 40% in British universities

Incidences of academic misconduct in British universities has surged by 40% between the 2014-15 and 2016-17 academic years according to research conducted by The Guardian.

Figures released by Russell Group Universities showed academic misconduct cases among 24 universities have increased from 2640 to 3721.  Cases of plagiarism has increased significantly from 1689 incidents in 2014-15 to 2284 incidents in 2016-17.

Thomas Lancaster, a senior teaching fellow at Imperial College London told The Guardian he believes increasing stress to do well in university is causing the numbers to rise, “A growing number of young people also feel more pressure than ever before, often turning to cheating to help them get through their degrees. It’s also easier to access websites that offer paid-to-order essays.”

Although the universities minister Jo Johnson denounced cheating and tried to implement measures to prevent misconduct, many universities have not yet changed their disciplinary processes.
Many professors are concerned about “ghost writers” and essay-help websites that will write essays for students in exchanged for money.

“We still don’t have accurate numbers breaking down how many students are being caught copying from different sources and how many are contract cheating … We’re still seeing ‘essay mills’ blatantly advertise around university campuses. In the past weeks alone, I know of one essay firm going around university to university,” said Lancaster to The Guardian.

Plagiarism and cheating is not only apparent in the United Kingdom, but in South Africa as well. Although the statistics are not as recent, 1 400 students university students were found to have cheated in 2014 in a study conducted by the Sunday Times.

Ian Kimber from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) told The Guardian he believes universities need to take more stringent measures to crackdown on plagiarism and misconduct cases.

“Our guidance for universities and colleges, published last year, offers practical advice on detecting and addressing contract cheating – but it’s clear that there is more work to be done,” he said.

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