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Wednesday, August 25, 1999 Published at 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK

UK: Scotland

E-mail 'cheat' student to sue

Henrietta is one of 117 students whose work was investigated

A computer studies student has threatened legal action after being accused by her university of using e-mail to cheat.

Henrietta Roe, 20, was among 117 Edinburgh University students whose course work was the subject of an inquiry.

BBC Scotland's Education Correspondent Ken Macdonald reports
Half of those involved in the scandal have been told they will have to resit an exam but others could face fines or even expulsion.

Miss Roe's father said her family is preparing to launch a defamation action against the university.

Devon-based business consultant Jeremy Roe said: "The issue is one of integrity. My daughter has been accused of being a cheat. She is not, and we are willing to prove that."

He added his daughter will not return to the university and as well as suing for defamation she will claim compensation for last year's costs if she loses a year's university place and reimbursement for loss of earnings if she delays starting work.

Board 'acted correctly'

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh University said it firmly believed the Board of Examiners had acted correctly. She added the university would not comment on individual students.

The first year computer studies students have set up a website, called Edinburgh 117, which is being used to put across their side of the story.

[ image: Jeremy Roe:
Jeremy Roe: "Matter of integrity"
They have criticised teaching standards on the course and say they were simply sharing information while completing practical work.

They allege the university was in breach of natural justice because it did not give those accused the chance to answer to the accusations and did not keep them fully informed.

The website's authors say the students they have spoken to have denied cheating - although they admit to sharing information about course work via e-mail.

The students are now being urged to write to the university's vice-chancellor to seek the withdrawal of the cheating allegations, removal of adverse comments on their records and an apology.

A statement on the Website says: "This website has been created to assist a group of students to consider their response to allegations of cheating made by Edinburgh University against them."

Plagiarism software

An inquiry was launched in July after similarities appeared in pre-degree course work.

The university used software which detects plagiarism by analysing sentence structure, vocabulary, phrases and syntax.

However, despite concerns at the outset of the inquiry, officials did not find that students had been copying material from the Internet.

The 117 students received letters from the board of examiners telling them their work "showed a degree of collaboration which went beyond what is acceptable in exercises intended to be completed individually".

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