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Record number of Oxford students found guilty of plagiarism

A record number of Oxford students were found guilty of ‘academic misconduct’ last year, new data has revealed.

There were 57 reported cases in the proctorial year 2017-18, of which 53 were for plagiarism.

The figure reflects an increase of 47% from 2016-17.

The rise in cases comes despite the University warning students they could face expulsion if caught copying others’ work without acknowledgement.

In the senior proctor’s annual oration, the outgoing holder of the role, Dr Edward Bispham, said that there had been steady increase in “reports of plagiarism and collusion, which are concentrated in particular parts of the University.”

While Dr Bispham did not elaborate upon that claim, in 2011, the senior proctor said: “The great majority of [plagiarism] cases come from international students at the Saïd Business School.”

Details of the four cases of academic misconduct that did not fall under plagiarism were not given.

In October, government watchdog, the Quality and Assurance Agency for Higher Education, published a guide for universities outlining how they could fight a rise in “pernicious” cheating, and encouraging the use of increasingly sophisticated technology.

Legal expert and the bursar of New College, David Palfreyman, said the majority of cases involved international students taking postgraduate degrees. He told the Daily Mail: “A lot of people on these courses have a lot at stake, and might be tempted to cheat because they are paying the full fees.”

In 2009, the senior proctor revealed that one student had plagiarised almost half of their final-year project. “[It] contained some twenty-nine pages out of sixty-five that had been copied verbatim from a previous year’s report,” he said. “Admittedly they had been carefully retyped using a different typeface.”

Proctorial years run from 9th week of Hilary Term to 8th week of the following Hilary.

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