Fewer student swindlers suspended for cheating

A tighter control of plagiarism across the Swedish education system is thought to be working after the number of students suspended on grounds of cheating at colleges and universities fell by 15 percent last year.

In 2009, 355 students were suspended after being caught copying papers or swindling exams compared to 409 in 2008.

Stockholm University, one of the country’s largest educational institutes with over 50,000 students, has reduced the number of suspensions from 46 in 2009 to 26 in 2008.

But not all of Sweden’s established seats of learning have had the same success.

Lund University, the country’s second oldest, has seen an increase from 41 student suspensions in 2008 to 42 in 2009.

Meanwhile, the capital’s prestigious Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) has also expelled more cheaters, rising from 33 to 35.

The figures also suggest scholars at the Stockholm School of Economics (Handelshögskolan) are some of the most virtuous in the country with no suspensions on record in the past two years.

Södertörn University, near Stockholm has seen its number of student cheater drop by nearly half in the last year.

Eva-Carolina Säfvelin, Södertörn’s student right’s officer says that both the number of reported cases of cheating and those pursued with disciplinary action has reduced.

She believes an increased awareness of plagiarism at Swedish high schools has contributed to the downward trend of cheating.

“Students are being taught how to handle their sources now,” she told news agency Siren. “And teachers are working actively to prevent plagiarism by better informing students what it means.”

According to Säfvelin, plagiarism accounts for the highest number of suspensions, but cases also include unauthorized notes taken into examinations.

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Swedish university exam unlikely to go ahead at all this year

It is looking increasingly unlikely that 'högskoleprovet' – an exam used by thousands of students every year as a way to enter Swedish university will go ahead – despite a government U-turn.

Swedish university exam unlikely to go ahead at all this year
In a normal year, 100,000 students sit what is known as the SweSAT or 'högskoleprovet'. Photo: Malin Hoelstad/SvD/SCANPIX

The Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (SweSAT, or högskoleprovet) is normally held twice a year, but was cancelled in spring and then later in autumn due to the coronavirus pandemic. But after pressure from opposition parties, the government last week said it would pave the way for the test to take place on its usual date in October in a limited format, open only to people who had not previously sat it.

Usually around 100,000 people sit the exam each year, around 40 percent of them doing so for the first time. The exam is not compulsory, but many people use its results to get into university, and it is seen as a crucial second chance for those who are not able to get accepted based on grades alone.

But any hope lit by the government's announcement last week was quickly extinguished this week, when university principals said it would still not be possible to organise a coronavirus-safe sitting. In the end it is up to the exam organisers to decide whether or not to hold it, so the government holds limited sway.

“They [the university principals] do not want to take responsibility for conducting the exam during the autumn, but would rather spend time and resources on conducting two tests as safely as possible in spring,” Karin Röding, director-general of the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR), told the TT news agency on Tuesday.

“I have no reason to have another opinion,” she added.

“It appears to be the case that you are going to have to wait another few months before an exam can be carried out in an infection-safe way,” confirmed Sweden's Minister of Higher Education, Matilda Ernkrans.

Meanwhile the political pressure eased on the Social Democrat-Green coalition government to ensure the test could be held before the deadline for applying to the spring semester of university, when the Liberal party joined the centre-left in voting no to pushing for an autumn sitting. Last week there was a majority for a yes vote on the Swedish parliament's education committee, consisting of right-wing parties Moderates, Christian Democrats, Sweden Democrats and the Liberals, but after the latter switched sides the committee voted no.

The Mdoerates blamed the government for not acting sooner to help the exam go ahead, by for example allocating more money and investigating the possibility of using more venues.

“There is one person who is to blame. That's Matilda Ernkrans,” said the party's education spokesperson Kristina Axén Olin. “The government has handled it really poorly and now it is thought to be too late and impossible.”

Ernkrans argued that she and the government had done everything they could, including making sure that test results from previous years will be valid for eight years rather than the usual five, as well as allocating extra funding to make it possible to hold more than one exam next spring.

Swedish vocabulary

cancel – ställa in

test/exam – (ett) prov

second chance – (en) andra chans

government – (en) regering

semester – (en) termin (note the false friend – the Swedish word semester means holiday)