Cheating on the rise at Massey

Copying from classmates, plagiarising from websites and books, and buying assignments were all cases of cheating picked up by Massey University, with some students using multiple methods to beat the system.

Figures obtained by the Manawatu Standard under the Official Information Act show cheating and plagiarism incidents have increased at the university in the past three years - from 17 in 2011, to 56 in 2012 and 72 last year.

But Massey says this doesn't reflect a growing number of cheats, as students instead cheated in multiple ways.

There were 72 "incidents" of cheating reported to the university's academic misconduct register last year, with 51 students caught - a number of students were picked up more than once for various methods of cheating.

There were 14 instances of people caught cheating in exams, 20 who copied another student's work, another 20 who plagiarised from websites and books, nine whose referencing was below par, five who recycled parts of previous assignments and four who purchased their assignment.

The number of instances was up on the year before, but the number of students cheating was down, Massey spokesman James Gardiner said.

In 2012, there were 56 "incidents" reported with the same number students recorded, showing they were cheating once and in one way.

There were 23 caught cheating in exams, 20 who plagiarised from websites and books, 12 who copied classmates' work and one student who recycled parts of previous assignments. In 2011, there were only 17 incidents, five caught cheating in an exam, seven counterfeiting copyrighted work and five copying a classmate.

Massey started recording the numbers of cheats in a central database in 2011.

Previously there were separate records in relation to exams, held campus by campus, and other types of cheating, such as assignments or tests, were held college by college.

The university, which has about 36,000 students across three campuses, had taken steps to address the issue and now kept track of cheats more closely, Gardiner said.

Its cheating policy, split into levels, relates to the experience of the student and the nature of the breach to determine the consequence.

Level 2 and 3 breaches were considered worse and were centrally recorded - such breaches could result in students failing a paper or being suspended or excluded from university.

Level 1 breaches were dealt with differently and were not recorded in the university's academic misconduct register, meaning the number of cheating students would be up on the figures provided.

"An educative approach is taken to level 1 breaches, which, as the policy says, are ‘typically managed informally' ... [but] at all levels there are consequences," Gardiner said.

"Massey University takes academic integrity extremely seriously.

"It has a policy in place for students that sets out the types of breaches, the criteria for assessing the seriousness of them, and how they are likely to be dealt with."

Last year, six students failed the course, 20 received a zero for a certain paper component, 14 had their marks reduced, five repeated the assessment with a capped grade, two repeated assessments with no grade change, 21 students attended remedial sessions with "learning consultants", six had no penalty imposed and four students were recommended to be excluded from the university, with a number leaving on their own accord. Students are in the middle of end-of-semester exams, due to finish this week.

Manawatu Standard