University Court convicts five students for cheating

Details of the five convictions for cheating that occurred in the last three years revealed

A Freedom of Information investigation by The Times has uncovered nearly 50,000 cases of students caught cheating over three years at British Universities.

Cambridge’s statutes and ordinances say that a person suspected of misconduct in an examination will be brought before the University Court, which may impose one of a number of sentences and recommend that the Vice-Chancellor amend class lists, following which the student can appeal to the “Septemviri”.

However, “if no appeal is made to the Septemviri, the Vice-Chancellor shall act in accordance with the advice of the Court or, if an appeal is made to the Septemviri, in accordance with the decision of that court.”

The Tab can reveal that the University Court has convicted five students in the last three years. All of the accused pleaded guilty to the cheating charges.

Only 5 cheating incidents here

Three students were charged with plagiarising exam essays from other authors. Penalties included being awarded a mark of 0 for the essay in question, resulting in the student failing that Part of the Tripos. Convicted cheaters were allowed to resubmit essays and progress with their degrees.

Another undergraduate student used a phone during a toilet break to log on to CamTools pages with notes relevant to the examination, while a graduate student plagiarised results from the work of another in the Master of Research exam. He was deprived of his degree but allowed to resubmit the project after rewriting.

The Court considers evidence presented in mitigation when determining sentences. In the majority of cases, “personal circumstances” were cited as a reason for a less severe penalty being imposed.

Commenting on the incidence of cheating at Cambridge, a University of Cambridge spokesman said “We are confident in our ability to identify and discipline instances of academic misconduct.”

There were significantly more cases of cheating at Oxford, with 109 incidents of students cheating in University examinations or submitted work in the period 2012 to 2015.