• Sweden edition
Cheating students prompt uni crackdown

Cheating students prompt uni crackdown

Published: 19 Mar 2012 16:58 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Mar 2012 16:58 GMT+01:00

The study, carried out by TT news agency in Gothenburg, shows that over 500 students were caught last year in Sweden, and the government is taking a harder stance against it, planning to ban cheating students from university programmes altogether.

“This is far too many,” said Peter Honeth of the ministry of education to the agency.

Cheating increased in Sweden’s biggest universities by 60 percent between 2009 and 2010, yet remained at the same level in 2011. Last year, 548 students were caught, only seven more than in 2010, according to TT.

According to current rules, a student caught cheating can be banned for a total of six months at the maximum, however the large numbers have forced authorities to get tougher in their grapple with devious students.

“Perhaps we can close doors on those who cheat for a longer time or maybe even completely,” Honeth told TT.

The government, meanwhile, wants to enforce the need for every university to use search engines for finding plagiarism, which is the most common form of cheating.

And the opposition parties are not entirely against the government’s ideas.

“It must be clear that there will be consequences if you break the rules” said Ibrahim Baylan, education spokesperson for the Social Democrats to TT.

TT/The Local/og (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:09 March 19, 2012 by Abe L
So one day you read about the government being concerned about youth unemployment and wants more people to finish school and get degrees. And now they want to ban people from universities because they get caught cheating once. And of course the problem lies with the students and not the university curriculum.

How about we wake up to the sad reality that for most degrees the curriculum doesn't match the skills the person needs in a future job. Often with deal breakers such as over complex math in a field where for most jobs you'll never use it. Or simply courses with to much theory completely irrelevant to what the course is meant to teach the student.

This is not a one-way problem, it'll require concessions from both sides, the student and the university/government. A student that cheats isn't necessarily incapable or in a program he doesn't belong, he or she can be as smart as anyone else that does't cheat.
18:33 March 19, 2012 by Antonito
Once I read a thesis submitted to a University here in Sweden. I found many "copy-paste" paragraphs but during the defense the student received congratulations from quite many professors. The cheating was very simple to detect: The student had a very simple English (written and spoken) and the report presented two extremely different levels of this language.

If you are writing a paper, browse the following link. It shows how to avoid plagiarism:

19:15 March 19, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ Abe L

Agree that banning for life is too extreme, but a penalty of a 1 year for a first offence would make sense, given that a 6 month penalty has done nothing to curb the cheaters.

Students have a responsibility to choose their courses and their universities to match their interest and aptitudes, and to determine how applied vs. theoretical a particular program will be (for example looking into how many among the faculty have some industrial experience), and most of all students have a basic responsibility to NOT cheat in courses that they choose to complete.

A university education is as much about learning how to learn as it is about being taught a restricted set of topics that are guaranteed to be 100% applicable to the future career of every student, especially in an age where careers change so often.

Sweden's universities already suffer from a reputation of promoting laziness (I was shocked at how little class time and course work graduate students have told me they are doing here vs. what I personally experienced elsewhere).

Watering down the reputation further by retaining a permissive policy on cheating, or forcing universities to change their courses to cater to the whims of students who mostly do not even know what subjects they will be asked to deal with in their careers, is the tail wagging the dog.

For these reasons I for one support the government's proposal to increase the penalties for cheating.
21:32 March 19, 2012 by StockholmSam
My first reaction is full support for much harsher penalties for cheaters. Perhaps one year is a good start for the first offense and then a five-year ban from university studies for a second offense. Third strike? You're out!

However, we have to realize that the world is a changed place. Most readers of The Local probably went to college before the internet was even around. Cutting and pasting involved scissors and Elmer's glue. I teach high-school kids and all they do is read web articles. Never books and never magazines or newspapers. While they might know how to formulate their own ideas and opinions, they do not know how to write these ideas and opinions down in a structured manner. Added to this lack of skill is the fact that they put off their work till the last minute. This is the way kids work today. The internet gives them information in very rapid and bite-sized chunks. To ask them to write a long essay over the course of several weeks or months that has a coherent thread throughout is quite ludicrous. Their minds are not wired to work that way. So they take the lazy way out...they copy someone else's work. This is a huge problem when you have teachers from one technological era expecting a certain type of product and students from another technological era whose skills lend themselves to creating a completely different product.

The point is that teachers today will have to create new projects for students and find new ways to assess them that cater to the students' skill sets. Long thesis papers may have to be eschewed. Unfortunately, like most of you, I see this option as a dumbing down of the education. Does it have to be this way? I don't know, but it seems to me that only a certain type of student today is capable of writing an original and strong thesis, and those students are getting more and more rare.

We can also add to this situation the competitive nature of education today. It is not about getting educated; it is about getting top grades. University is a huge investment and the goal of a good job is no longer guaranteed. Top grades might help land a decent job or a spot in a top grad school. Unfortunately, the kids are too focused on the end result rather than the journey. They do not value the learning or the process. This is very bad indeed. But neither is it anything new.
21:54 March 19, 2012 by J Jack
If 500 were caught then imagine how many were actually doing it? I ran dozens of pub quizzes in Sweden and learned that it was only considered cheating if one was caught out ... and many were disqualified from our quiz nights ... it was kind of like biting the hand that was feeding us. After all the customer is always right, right? Now with the tuition fees the way they have skyrocketed to unrealistic proportions, we can't expect any students to contemplate failure.
22:23 March 19, 2012 by StockholmSam
The funny thing is that so many companies expect applicants to have degrees and yet very rarely request and examine transcripts. Most hiring managers know that on-the-job training is the crucial factor for an employee. So why do students battle so hard for top grades? In my experience, grades only counted when trying to get into grad school and if anyone should be aware of the issues of plagiarism, cheating and grade inflation, it is grad schools. The whole system is screwed up. Unis should eliminate the whole grade system and just go to a pass/fail system then make the curriculum hard enough that a pass is actually worth something. How would the brightest students separate themselves? By completing multiple degrees or volunteering in the community (and getting references) or by shining in summer internships or whatever. Average students won't do such things. Then perhaps it would be put on the company to evaluate the potential employee's skillset, instead of merely relying on the opinions of overworked and disengaged professors.
22:52 March 19, 2012 by RobinHood
If you are unfit/unable/unwilling or plain too lazy to graduate from a course without cheating, then don't sign up for it. If you get busted for cheating, you should be kicked off the course.

Cheats deceive their professors, their fellow students, and every future employer and colleague they will ever have. That's no way to set out on a career path, every Crown they ever earn will be dirty money. Better to qualify as a hairdresser the right way, than a doctor the wrong way.
23:05 March 19, 2012 by johan rebel
Kick 'm out, ban 'm from the university, withdraw their grants and force them to immediately pay back any money already received + interest at commercial rates.

This is one instance where severe penalties might actually have some deterrent effect.
01:32 March 20, 2012 by standelivr
Not only do they cheat at school, they cheat on their boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife.

Savages! Beasts!
08:40 March 20, 2012 by Happy Expat
#8 They already have to repay their student loans after qualifying, at hugely inflated interest rates compared with the interbank rate. The government doesn't provide studibidrag as a service it's a "cash cow" for the future.

perhaps if the cost of higher education was reduced then the pressure on the student to ensure it can be repaid would be reduced - less cheating?
09:51 March 20, 2012 by EP
Six months!!! I know in Canada you cheat, you're blacklisted at all the major universities for life. Oh, and no re-writing of exams ad infinitum in Canada until you pass your exams unlike here in Sweden. You fail an exam, you MAY have one re-write in the summer and that's it. Either you fail the year (and then you're out) or you repeat the course (if you haven't failed the year).
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