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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 00:19 GMT
Students 'admit copying essays'
degree certificate
Concerns about plagiarism are on the rise
A significant minority of students admit cheating in their university essays, according to a survey.

In a poll of 1,022 undergraduates at 119 institutions by The Times Higher Education Supplement, one in six admitted they had copied from friends.

One in 10 said they had tried to find model essays on the internet.

University chiefs said plagiarism devalued students' work and that anti-cheating software was used, with "severe penalties" for anyone caught.

More men admit cheating

The Times Higher survey found the most common form of cheating admitted by students was copying work from friends.

Men were more likely than women to say they had cheated in this way: 21% compared with 14%.

But wholesale copying of essays was rare - only 3% of students admitted to copying text word for word either from books or the internet. Most universities use anti-plagiarism software which can detect slabs of text cut and pasted from the internet.

But the poll also identified a greyer area of potential cheating with well over one in three admitting to copying ideas - rather than the exact words - from books or online sources.

Last year, a report by the higher education technology organisation Jisc warned that student plagiarism was likely to become more common.

The issue of plagiarism among school pupils as well as students continues to raise concerns among educationalists.

'Severe penalties'

And Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has called for an urgent review of the use of coursework in GCSE subjects, in part because of concerns about the copying of material from the internet.

The vice-chancellors' organisation, Universities UK, said plagiarism devalued the efforts of students who worked hard to achieve their degrees.

A spokesman said it also undermined the research and learning opportunities provided by an undergraduate degree.

"Universities UK members have severe penalties for those students caught cheating, with many institutions using advanced anti-plagiarism software to ensure that this is enforced," he said.

"With continuous developments in technology and internet usage, the sector is actively addressing this issue by re-evaluating its assessment procedures and getting the message across that instances of plagiarism will not be tolerated."

Oxford dons alerted to plagiarism
14 Mar 06 |  Education
Software 'cannot stop cheating'
22 Nov 05 |  Education
Student plagiarism 'on the rise'
11 Feb 05 |  Education
'Quarter of students cheating'
30 Jun 04 |  Education

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