The increasing cost of going to university could be causing an increase plagiarism, as students try to maximise their chances of getting a good degree, a survey suggests.
Students are finding it harder to make ends meet
A poll of 31 British universities by BBC Radio 4's The World At One uncovered about 1,600 cases of students ripping off other people's work.
Nearly eight out of 10 said more students were passing others' work off as their own.
A third said they were having to deal with many more such cases compared with a few years ago.
The internet was the factor most often blamed by academics for the rise in plagiarism, with some claiming schools were allowing students to develop bad habits.
But they also cited the increased cost of going to university as more employers are refusing even to look at people with less than a 2:1 degree grade.
Essex University's academic registrar, Moira Collett, said:
"I fear the financial pressure students are under is inevitably one of the causes.
"Their time is now so pressured because they have to take paid employment while they're studying. They pay tuition fees and in the future they're going to have to pay higher tuition fees.
"They don't get grants any more, so they're having to pay all their expenses. The time left to do their academic work is severely constrained."
Half of undergraduates from England and Wales have to pay the current full means-tested £1,100 a year fee and Scottish students are exempt from paying anything upfront.
More students are also graduating with large overdrafts, loans and credit card debts.
The cost of going to university will increase sharply for many if
universities are allowed to charge fees of up to £3,000 a year from 2006.
However, student grants of up to £1,000 will return from next year.