Oxford University has warned student plagiarisers that they will be caught, after a survey revealed almost half of Cambridge students admitted to copying work.
Approximately 49% of Cambridge University students confessed to cheating, in a survey published by the Varsity student newspaper. Law students were exposed as being the worst offenders, with 62% of them breaking the University’s plagiarism rules.
The revelations have triggered the introduction of new special detection software at the institution, after only 5% of students participating in the survey admitted having been caught cheating.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Oxford University confessed that similar examples of cheating were certainly happening at their own institution.
She said that, “Whilst we would be surprised if Oxford was not near the bottom of national and world rankings for the incidence of plagiarism, thanks to the measure of care taken with both teaching and examining at Oxford, we are not complacent.
“Students sometimes do not fully understand what constitutes plagiarism. We take educating them about these issues extremely seriously.”
She added that Oxford University already has anti-plagiarism technology in place to investigate cheating in examinations and also monitors online sources where students can find material, such as essay banks.
If a student cheats on a piece of written work, they may lose marks or score zero on the assignment. In more serious cases, students may find themselves sent down.
Oxford University have the power to take away degrees that have already been awarded if it is revealed that the student cheated. However, despite these prospective penalties, several Oxford students admitted to having frequently cheated during their studies.
“Just a fact of life”
One second year student said, “I’m not sure what counts as plagiarism, but taking material from other sources and using it in your own work is just a fact of life.
“It’s just what goes on, especially when your back’s against the wall during an essay crisis. I’ve heard of people copying entire tracts of text off the internet; anyone who thinks it doesn’t go on is kidding themselves.”
Another anonymous student said, “If I thought I could get away with it, I would do it all the time but it’s just not worth the hassle of getting caught.”
Paul Dwyer, OUSU Access and Academic Affairs Officer, agrees that “there may be occasions when someone simply does not cite their sources correctly and finds themselves in trouble.”
He also recognised the high pressure environment at Oxford could lead students to plagiarism, saying that in some cases students “might feel that it is better to submit something that contains plagiarised passages, rather than submit nothing at all.”
However, Dwyer concluded that the chances of students who plagairise not getting caught by the authorities is “very slim”.