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Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 16:45 GMT
Education 'key to tackle cheats'
mobile phone
Available technology has made it easier for students to cheat
Education is the key to combating cheating, by ensuring pupils see it as morally unacceptable, a report says.

The report, commissioned by England's exams watchdog the QCA, concludes that the increase in available technology has made it easier to cheat.

Report author, Prof Jean Underwood of Nottingham Trent University, also said technological solutions such as jamming mobile phones should be investigated.

The QCA said it would take on board many of her recommendations.

Using the analogy of tackling drink-driving, she said that the tipping point had occurred when society in general no longer saw it as acceptable.

A QCA report last year found that more than 1,000 students were caught taking a mobile phone into an exam (0.06% of the total examination population).

Lack of insight

In a review of both UK and international research into cheating, Prof Underwood cites a study by the US-based Center for Academic Integrity.

This survey of almost 50,000 undergraduates on more than 60 campuses found 70% of students had admitted to some form of cheating.

The QCA said one of the issues raised in the report was the lack of true insight into the prevalence of the problem within the UK.

It said it would be taking many of Prof Underwood's recommendations on board.

Prohibition list

These include investigating the legality of using technology to jam or detect mobile phone signals.

Another recommendation is for regulators to reinstate the list of prohibited activities within an examination hall.

The QCA said teachers, parents and pupils needed clarification as to the appropriate level of help that could be offered to pupils doing coursework.

"If young people don't know what the rules of the game are for assessment then that is an important message for us," said the QCA's director of regulation and standards, Isabel Nisbet.

She added: "We want everybody to think that the qualifications we are offering are worthwhile."

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