Number of students engaged in academic misconduct

Request 

Dear Freedom of Information officer, 

We are requesting the following information under the Freedom of Information Act as part of our continuing work on the challenge posed by contract cheating and other academic misconduct to the work by UK universities to maintain academic integrity. 

We thought it would be useful to provide some background and context to our request and how we intend to use the information.

The BBC has been reporting in the last year on the attempts by essay writing mills to normalise buying academic work, using multiple social media platforms and the reach of their social influencers. There is a debate about whether the sale and promotion of such services should be made illegal in the UK, following similar proposals in New Zealand, Ireland and Australia.

We understand individual universities may record or act on information about academic misconduct differently.  Higher numbers of recorded cases might reflect a more pro-active approach, or better recording,  rather than suggesting there is more misconduct. 

Our intention is to get a UK wide overall snapshot of what is happening, how it is recorded by universities, and what might be changing. We intend to collate the information we gather into a national picture, rather than make comparisons between institutions or construct any kind of “league table”.  

We are very interested in hearing more about what universities are doing to detect different forms of cheating, and whether changing social norms mean there is a greater need to educate students about academic integrity.

We would prefer you to answer the questions below by filling in this online survey - 

The use of the survey makes data collection easier for us and ensures we are less likely to make errors and misrepresent your figures. Accuracy is very important to us

If you are not happy filling in the survey for whatever reason, I have provided a pro-forma Excel spreadsheet that I would greatly appreciate you taking the time to fill in instead. Please provide the answers to the FOI questions in a .csv or .xslx format.

Questions

Please supply the following data about student cheating for each of the five academic years from 2013/14 to 2017/18. 

Undergraduates

1. The number of undergraduates found to have engaged in academic misconduct.

2. The answers to 1 broken down by whether the student’s country of domicile was (i) UK (ii) EU (iii) non-EU

3. The answers to 1 broken down by whether the academic misconduct involved (a) cheating or attempted cheating in exams (b) use of a paid essay/dissertation writing service (c) plagiarism (d) other (please specify, for example have you seen an increasing use of technology.)

Postgraduates

4. The number of postgraduates found to have engaged in academic misconduct.

5. The answers to 5 broken down by whether the student’s country of domicile was (i) UK (ii) EU (iii) non-EU

6. The answers to 5 broken down by whether the academic misconduct involved (a) cheating or attempted cheating in exams (b) use of a paid essay/dissertation/thesis writing service (c) plagiarism (d) other (please specify, for example have you seen an increasing use of technology.) 

Detection

7. I understand that this question is outside of the Act, but it would be really helpful if you could give us anything to follow up on in terms of finding case studies for our story. Please also provide contact details for us to do so.

a) Are there are any new, interesting or innovative methods of detection or investigation which your university has employed that you would like us to be aware of?

b) Have you noticed any trends in academic misconduct over the last few years? Eg. students using lawyers more often, or a particular type of cheating which has become more widespread?  

Thank you very much for your time,

Response

Dear Mr.., 

I write further to your request for information dated 4 March 2019.  This request has been handled by the University in accordance with its duties and obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("FOIA").  

You requested details of:

Undergraduates

  1. The number of undergraduates found to have engaged in academic misconduct.
  2. The answers to 1 broken down by whether the student’s country of domicile was (i) UK (ii) EU (iii) non-EU
  3. The answers to 1 broken down by whether the academic misconduct involved (a) cheating or attempted cheating in exams (b) use of a paid essay/dissertation writing service (c) plagiarism (d) other (please specify, for example have you seen an increasing use of technology.)

Postgraduates

4. The number of postgraduates found to have engaged in academic misconduct.

5. The answers to 5 broken down by whether the student’s country of domicile was (i) UK (ii) EU (iii) non-EU

6. The answers to 5 broken down by whether the academic misconduct involved (a) cheating or attempted cheating in exams (b) use of a paid essay/dissertation/thesis writing service (c) plagiarism (d) other (please specify, for example have you seen an increasing use of technology.) 

Detection

7. I understand that this question is outside of the Act, but it would be really helpful if you could give us anything to follow up on in terms of finding case studies for our story. Please also provide contact details for us to do so.

a) Are there are any new, interesting or innovative methods of detection or investigation which your university has employed that you would like us to be aware of?

b) Have you noticed any trends in academic misconduct over the last few years? Eg. students using lawyers more often, or a particular type of cheating which has become more widespread? 

The University's response is attached FOIA response 32/1385 .

If you are not satisfied with the handling of your request, you may request an internal review.  Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter by writing to:


Chris Ince
University Secretary
London Metropolitan University
166-220 Holloway Road
London
N7 8DB
 
Email: c.ince@londonmet.ac.uk
 
If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
 
The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
 
Telephone:  0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745
Website:  www.ico.org.uk
 
There is no charge for making an appeal.

Kind regards,

Tracy Brathwaite
Information Compliance Officer
University Secretary's Office
London Metropolitan University
166-220 Holloway Road
London N7 8DB

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