The University of Nottingham has insisted that cheating is not skyrocketing among its students, following the emergence of figures which show a significant rise in recorded plagiarism at the institution in the last five years.
According to records released under the Freedom of Information Act, 280 students were caught submitting copied work in coursework last year compared to 38 in 2004: a rise of over 700%. Another 11 were found to have cheated in exams in the 2008/09 session.
The University also reported 123 second offenders caught in the last five years. Only four of the culprits were expelled, while most were allowed to continue studying after having their marks docked. Citing an investment in plagiarism detection software and a change in the system for gathering plagiarism data, a spokesman for the University argued that “There is no clear evidence that plagiarism and cheating have actually increased to this extent.”
Figures showed that the business school came top in the table with 45 instances of plagiarism last year, followed by humanities with 36. However, it was argued by the University that any disparity between departments was only in line with the respective size of the departments.
In an official statement, the University spokesman said: “In 2006 the university invested in plagiarism detection software to assist our academics. This accounts in part for a noticeable rise in cases detected and proven.
“It is impossible to attempt to extrapolate increases or draw any conclusions from the limited and non-comparable data currently available in relation to plagiarism. Direct comparison is unreliable since the information held by schools within the University from before 2006 is incomplete.”