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Norwich Business School accounts for half of UEA students caught cheating

The Norwich Business School (NBS) has the highest proportion of students caught cheating in examinations at UEA. An investigation by Concrete found that by February this academic year, 88 percent of UEA students caught cheating in exams were from NBS.

Over the last three academic years, approximately half of students caught cheating in exams have been enlisted with NBS. 53.1 percent of all UEA students caught cheating in 2016/17 were from NBS, and in 2017/18 NBS students made up 46.8 percent of all those caught cheating.

In 2015/16 and 2017/18, students from the School of Economics (ECO) accounted for around 25 percent of students caught cheating. For these two years, ECO and NBS students represented approximately three quarters of all students caught cheating in examinations, despite these schools containing less than a third of the total student population.

Professor Paul Robson, Head of NBS, said the University ‘takes matters of cheating extremely seriously and there are robust reporting and disciplinary procedures in place for these instances. Cheating can take a number of forms and academic staff help students to understand what is expected of them, to avoid any incidents of academic misconduct.’

He went on to point out that NBS is the largest school at UEA with 2,000 full-time students and added ‘most [NBS] modules have an examination as a component of the summative assessment.’

Dr Fabio R Aricò, Director of Learning, Teaching and Quality for ECO, said ‘cheating behaviours are often associated to lack of information or fear of failure on students’ behalf, rather than intrinsically malicious intents.’ ECO’s three-point plan aims to tackle cheating by addressing these issues.

Some such methods include the development of an ECO app to educate students on University regulations, shift assessment focus to more real-world content, and increase support for students including using Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) schemes. ECO has also introduced a Learning and Teaching Enhancement Event to help shape how it responds to many academic issues, including examination misconduct.

Less than one percent of UEA’s 20,000 students have been caught during exams, with only 62 students caught cheating in 2017/18. Some schools have very low rates of cheating, with the School of Chemistry (CHE), School of Art, Media and American Studies (AMA), School of Environmental Sciences (ENV), and the School of Mathematics (MTH) having a combined total of seven students caught in the last four academic years. This is in drastic comparison to the 111 NBS students convicted in the same period.

Cheating at UEA has been under the spotlight before, with the Eastern Daily Press reporting in 2016 that incidents of exam cheating involving overseas students had risen by 29 percent. A UEA spokesperson at the time said, ‘overseas students are less used to the examination culture than UK students, who will have had experience at A-level examinations of the sorts of restrictions that we have in place.’

The spokesperson went on to point out that examination cheating can take many forms, may not be intentional, and could be as a result of misunderstanding regulations, such as the UK rules prohibiting possession of mobile phones which may not apply in other countries. This may explain the twelve percent increase in students using mobile phones for cheating in the last four academic years.

UEA has a strict disciplinary policy to tackle cases of alleged cheating, outlined in the University Disciplinary and Investigative Procedures and Powers.

Between 2015-2018, 37 students have faced disciplinary action from the Senate Student Disciplinary Committee, which can include suspension and the awarding of zero marks on the assessment. Only one student has been expelled for cheating since 2015.

Students from taught degrees associated with professional bodies, such as Medicine, are at particularly high risk if caught cheating in examinations. Not only could they be liable to potential expulsion from their course, they could also damage future career prospects.

The university highlights that students in the Law School who are caught cheating risk refusal to entry to solicitor training by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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August 2022
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