Half of Cambridge Students Say Cheating Is OK

November 03, 2008 07:33 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
An anonymous study reveals that almost half of students attending England’s prestigious Cambridge University have plagiarized a paper; the percentage is even higher for law students.

Half of Cambridge University Students Have Cheated

Some students claimed they were simply overwhelmed by the workload, whereas others insisted they didn’t realize they were cheating. But all excuses aside, 49 percent of Cambridge students reported plagiarizing a paper at some point in their undergraduate career. The statistics were worse for law students, with 62 percent admitting to plagiarism.

Methods of cheating varied. The Telegraph reported that some students confessed to searching for essays on Google and copying entire pieces. Others said they reused the same essay for different classes, while another claimed she used other people’s ideas without proper citation. One academic affairs officer stated that the University ought to do more to punish offenders, but the University maintains that its cheating policies are strict and well-enforced.

Nonetheless, the BBC reported that only one in 20 cheaters at Cambridge were caught and punished. Cheating has become harder to control as more Internet resources are easily available; 82 percent of students who plagiarized admitted to using Wikipedia content. Some weren’t even aware that this was plagiarizing.

Even if they knew they were doing something wrong, on the whole, students seemed unafraid of repercussions. One student told the Cambridge Varsity newspaper, which conducted the study, “In one term I handed in 12 essays, nine of which were other peoples. … Even if I did get caught, I’m not convinced anything would happen.”

Opinion & Analysis: Why do people cheat?

Although we technically live in a society that punishes cheaters, there seem to be more of them than ever. explores some of the reasons why people cheat and investigates whether unethical behavior is actually on the rise, or just appears that way. David Callahan, author of “The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead,” argues that because there is such a great emphasis on money and success in our society, people grasp at any means to attain it. He also suggests that when people hear about others who cheat, they are more inclined to think it’s acceptable.

Reference: Plagiarism prevention


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