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Hundreds cheating on University of Wolverhampton courses

University of Wolverhampton

The University of Wolverhampton says it had 318 cases of plagiarism in 2012/13, which is down from 383 the previous year.

Jon Elsmore, dean of students at the university, said: “Issues of plagiarism and cheating are experienced at all universities and we are particularly robust at uncovering both. We treat these matters seriously.

“Sometimes plagiarism can occur unintentionally, and if problems are identified early in a student’s career they can be helped to develop their academic skills and avoid more serious consequences if they do not change their approach.

“We work closely with the Student’s Union to raise awareness of the issue among the student body.

“It should be noted that 99.6 per cent of all final module results recorded in 2012/13 involved no academic misconduct.”

Penalties for proven cases of plagiarism can range from being marked down or failing a module to exclusion from the university, for serious or repeat offences.

The University of Wolverhampton has 23,000 students.

The figures on plagiarism were released after a lecturer claimed a ‘significant minority’ of university essays were ‘stolen goods’, copied and pasted from the internet.

Aidan Byrne criticised some of his students for plagiarism in essays handed in at the end of last term.

Writing on his blog, titled Plashing Vole, the senior lecturer in English, media and cultural studies at the University of Wolverhampton said academics ‘expect a degree of plagiarism these days’.

However, he has subsequently said that 99.6 per cent of students ‘do not plagiarise’.

The university said that incidents of plagiarism by students were dropping but that it still had 318 confirmed cases in 2012/13. On his blog, Dr Byrne said: “I’m marking a set of essays about ethics. Most of them are OK to good, or not good enough but the product of honest effort.

“However, a significant minority are simply stolen goods.

“Some are cut-and-pasted from the internet, others show signs of attempts to disguise their origins.

“A few essays have clearly been worked on – their sources are legitimate academic work and I just don’t understand why the authors don’t add quotation marks, stick in a footnote and get full credit for research rather than try to pass it off as their own work by changing a few words.

“We expect a degree of plagiarism these days. The motivations are much-debated. Some people are lazy. Others panic.

“Some are motivated by the acquisition of a degree certificate and have no desire to learn anything along the way.

“Some come from cultures in which the re-production of other thinkers’ material is seen as legitimate.

“We make considerable efforts to explain that plagiarism offends the intellectual community, isn’t educationally productive and is morally wrong. And yet still they do it.

“I guess it’s particularly galling at this time every year because it’s always these essays on this subject.

“Anyone who plagiarises work about ethics either has no sense of irony or a highly-developed sense of humour.”

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